Evanston’s first-annual Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience takes place


Nora Miller

Illustration by Nora Miller

Eden Drajpuch, Features Editor

On Friday, Nov, 20, the Evanston Public Library hosted their first-annual event in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance/Resilience. The event was designed to bring trans and gender non-conforming POC voices to the front.  

“It all came together really fast,” M. Halka, the head organizer of the event, said. “I put the framework together, and I spoke with the trans staff members at the library. We support each other pretty regularly.” 

The event was organized by Evanston Public Library staff, members of the LGBTQ+ community, Northwestern’s Rainbow Alliance, and more. Recently, the Evanston Public Library has been working to ensure that its activism is inclusive to trans/gender non-conforming POC individuals specifically and avoids pinkwashing (the act of utilizing LGBTQ+ issues to distract from other forms of systemic oppression). 

“There is very robust anti-racist action happening in Evanston, and the means of Black liberation and trans liberation are intertwined and inherently connected,” Halka explained. “There’s been some concern of racism within the LGBTQ+ community and centering cis white men and not inter-community problems, so we wanted to center that and focus on that.”

Other organizers, such as Evanston parents and Dori-Taylor Carter, the External President of Northwestern’s Rainbow Alliance, helped ensure that information about the event was able to reach a wider Evanston audience. 

“I was just really excited to make this connection between the Rainbow Alliance and the larger Evanston community,” Carter said. “In my experience, our connection with Evanston has been pretty limited, so I’m really stoked to bridge that gap.”

The event began with an opening, followed by a land acknowledgment. Then, community norms were established, and there was a brief discussion about Zoom safety. Following this, there was a reading of the 37 names of the transgender and gender non-conforming individuals who lost their lives to violence this year. There was a moment of silence after the names were read, a stretch session, an open mic, a discussion about the future needs and desires within the trans and GNC community of Evanston, and then a closing.  

The TDOR event was just one way of establishing a community space in Evanston, and intended to create a model for future community gatherings designed to reflect and heal. Despite taking place in a virtual setting due to COVID-19, the organizers feel that the event was successful, and paved the way for this particular event to become an annual tradition. 

“I think the sense of community was really powerful and something that I was hopeful to see,” Carter said. “For folks to express themselves and their experiences in such a candid and open way, and also be present to hold space and have community, [was] just really powerful, especially because it was the first event of its kind in Evanston.” 

Looking forward towards Transgender Day of Visibility, which is observed annually on March 31, the library is hoping to partner with more community members and organizations to ensure that the event continues to be a safe space. Despite this event being a few months away, the link to register can be found here: https://evanston.libnet.info/event/4713478.

“The fact that so many people showed up on a Friday night with so little notice shows that there’s a yearning,” Halka said. “I’m excited to see what happens in the future with trans day of visibility and other events.”