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Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance

There are vigils being held around the world, in over 250 cities to remember those who were murdered simply because of their gender identity or expression. (365gay):

Vigils, services and a variety of other events are being held in 250 cities around the world today to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance – the day set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

The first Transgender Day of Remembrance was organized by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1999 in San Francisco to honor the memory of Rita Hester who was murdered on November 28th, 1998.

Smith’s candlelight vigil spread nationwide and then around the world. But Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

Gwen Araujo was a transgender teen from Newark, CA. who was murdered in 2002. Defense lawyers used the “gay panic” defense — claiming that their rage and actions stemmed from having sex with Araujo and later learning she was born male.

Araujo was only 17 when she was killed.

The Lifetime cable channel aired “A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story” this year. The film, which stars J.D. Pardo and Mercedes Ruehl, was a sensitive portrayal of Araujo’s struggle.

Imagine feeling like you’re trapped in the wrong body, that there’s been some sort of mistake — that you’re supposed to be a girl instead of a boy. How would you tell your family and friends that you wanted to change genders? Would you bring it up with someone you had a crush on? And what would you do when society not only refused to accept the new you, but was violent toward you? Well, Eddie Araujo didn’t know the answers, but he did know he was supposed to be female, so he began to dress as a girl and changed his name to Gwen.

In September, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed The Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act, which limits the use of that defense.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding