Days before the 20th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), Harris County showed its support for the trans community by enacting a resolution to recognize the international LGBTQ holiday.
During a meeting on Nov. 12, the Harris County Commissioners Court approved a resolution to mark TDOR on Nov. 20. The court’s new Democratic majority—county judge Lina Hidalgo, along with commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia—signed the resolution. Republican commissioners Jack Cagle and Steve Raddack did not.
Garcia, a longtime LGBTQ ally who authored the resolution, read a statement during the meeting.
“This resolution is to remember that Harris County values diversity in our community, including different ethnicities, cultures, faiths, genders, and sexual orientations,” Commissioner Garcia said. “This resolution is also to commemorate the 20th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, [which] will be observed in more than 185 cities across more than 20 countries.”
Two pioneering trans activists from Texas—Lou Weaver and Ana Andrea Molina—spoke at the commissioner’s meeting, and thanked the court for acknowledging TDOR, which is observed annually to memorialize those who have been murdered due to hate crimes and draw attention to the continued violence that the trans community faces.
“In Texas, we have lost 4 people to anti-trans violence, just this year alone,” Weaver said, adding that over 200 people—mostly trans women of color—will be memorialized on TDOR this year. “For you to highlight this at the county level is very important to us.”
The number of hate crimes singling out trans and gender-nonconforming people spiked by 41 percent in 2018, according to the latest FBI crime statistics. Weaver told the commissioners court this may be due to more crime, or because of better reporting.
“In the past, when trans people have died, they’ve been misnamed or misgendered in the media,” Weaver said. “We’re working locally with police departments and the media to be able to get the right names out.”
Not all LGBTQ people report hate crimes to police for various reasons, such as the fear of police abuse or not being believed by the authorities. However, the Houston Police Department has resources for queer folks who want to report a hate crime, Weaver said.
Molina, an undocumented trans woman, said the City of Houston has a historic debt to the trans community. “The [trans] community has been criminalized, assassinated, and deported,” she said, “but today, this resolution gives us a new start to create a new trust with the people of Houston. It is an opportunity to protect trans people for their beliefs, their gender identities, and by their races.”
Garcia thanked the speakers for their advocacy work. He also mentioned the work of Houston trans rights activist Nikki Araguz Loyd, who passed away on November 6. In 2012, when Araguz Loyd spent time in jail, she and Garcia helped create policy change that requires that trans inmates be addressed by their chosen name.
“Together, we have worked on policies that have made national news,” Garcia said. “It is with a heavy heart that we present this on the eve of the life celebration of Nikki Araguz. She too helped transform operations from within the county jail.”
Hidalgo echoed Garcia’s statement, and asked the commissioners court to also remember Itali Marlowe, a trans woman who was murdered in Houston two months ago. “In September, we also lost another life,” Hidalgo said. “Speaking out against the stigma, even if it’s just through a resolution, goes a long way.”
Watch the November 12 Harris County Commissioner’s Court meeting here.
For more information on how to report a hate crime with the Houston Police Department, visit http://www.houstontx.gov/police/hatecrime/.