Last month, Tallahassee police took the life of 38-year-old Tony McDade, a Black transman. Since then, Black transwomen Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells and Riah Milton have also died due to transphobic violence. Organizers are inviting the community to gather at Public Square Park for a vigil to honor Black Trans Lives on Saturday, June 20th at 7:30 p.m.

On May 27th, two days after the death of George Floyd, 38-year-old Tony McDade, a Black transman in Tallahassee, Florida, died at the hands of police. As actions exploded across the country in response to #GeorgeFloyd and #BreonnaTaylor, Tony's name has been missing from chants and tributes.

Since the murder of Tony McDade, Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells and Riah Milton have lost their lives to transphobic violence. Their names join the at least 15 other transgender and gender non-conforming people who have been killed in the United States this year alone, an overwhelming number of which are Black.

During this year’s Pride Month, we remember the legacy of transgender people of color, including Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Marsha P. Johnson, Stormé DeLarverie, and Sylvia Rivera, who 51 years ago rose up during the Stonewall Riots to assert that their lives matter. On June 20th, we will honor the lives of Black transgender people who were ended too soon.

All are invited to gather at Public Square Park in solidarity with Tony and in support of all Black trans and gender-nonconforming people, to tell Tennessee that Black Trans Lives Matter.

One Nashville organizer, Nick Berkley (he/him) shared why he will be attending the event, “You can’t pick and choose which Black lives matter to you. Our lives, Black Trans lives, matter. Tony McDade, Dominique Fells, and Riah Hamilton all deserve to be honored and remembered, to be uplifted. This vigil will honor them and all others we’ve lost to transphobic white supremacy and state-sanctioned violence. It will allow us a space to heal and support one another as a community.”

Aire Haymer (they/them) is attending the vigil out of love for their transgender community “I’m tired of black trans voices being silenced. I’m tired of my people being murdered with no justice. I’m supporting this vigil because it directly affects me and the people I love. Black trans women are the reason we have rights and we owe it to them to make sure all members of the LGBTQ+ community are protected including Black trans lives.”

Kayla Gore (she/her), an organizer from Memphis, Tennessee, will be traveling to Nashville to participate in the vigil, “We are gathering in honor of Tony McDade to signify that #AllBlackTransLivesMatter. In a time when LGBTQ protections ar being stripped away daily, the most vulnerable are Black people.”

Nashville Native Feonix Cerulli (they/them)  echoed this sentiment, “Black lives are in danger. Black lives have always been in danger. And in knowing that Black lives are always under attack, we need to also acknowledge our trans siblings; our brothers and sisters. Black transpeople's deaths are often either completely overlooked by the media or those who have passed are not seen for the people they were. We need to see ALL black lives. We need to cherish, protect, preserve, and grieve all black lives that are lost.”

Organizers strongly encourage all those planning to participate to use masks, and to practice social distancing measures. They also invite those who cannot attend to assist in using Facebook and Twitter to get the word out, and to use the following hashtags to show your support:

#BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter #TonyMcDade #DominiqueFells #RiahMilton #VigilforBlackTransLives #BTLM #AllBlackLivesMatter

Public Square Park is located at Union St & 3rd Ave North in Nashville. CLICK HERE FOR THE FACEBOOK EVENT.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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