Event pays tribute to transgender violence victimsWritten by Matt Liasse | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Three years ago, Candice Milligan was one of the people who planned Toledo’s first Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The event was created to recognize transgender people from around the world who have been victims of violence and discrimination.
This year, Milligan came perilously close to being one of the names read during the event’s memorial service.
Milligan was attacked and robbed by three men near 13th Street and Madison Avenue at 2:50 p.m. Nov. 3. According to a police report, Milligan was punched in the face, mouth and head, and her phone was taken from her hand.
She was transported to Mercy St. Vincent Hospital, where she stayed until Nov. 6.
One of her alleged attackers, Christopher Temple, 20, has since been arrested and charged with aggravated robbery and felonious assault. Police still are trying to identify other people involved in the assault. Milligan declined to speak to media until after Temple’s court case is resolved. He is scheduled for arraignment in Lucas County Court of Common Pleas on Nov. 20.
This year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Sylvania United Church of Christ, 7240 Erie St. Organized by Toledo Area Transgender Support (TATS), the event includes a recognition reading, speakers, a memorial service and fellowship.
TATS founder and facilitator Edie Recker visited Milligan while she was in the hospital after the attack. She visited to provide support, not just for Milligan, but for Milligan’s family as well.
“I gave them a lot of advice to help them understand the journey that Candice was going on,” said Recker, who is also transgender. “I think it was a life-changing experience for them.”
After Milligan’s attack, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allied (LGBTQA) community organized a community conversation to provide a safe space to discuss newsworthy issues.
The group discussed steps to ensure the safety of the transgender community. Conversations included how to be a caring ally, how the media covers the transgender community, how police treat transgender people and artistic avenues in which their community can express themselves.
“EqualityToledo, BRAVO (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization) and TransOhio knew the importance of bringing together the LGBTQ communities in Toledo as well as our allies to have a conversation about the state of our community,” EqualityToledo Executive Director Dave Crafts said.
“We wanted to give everyone an opportunity to discuss how we can best support Candice as well as talk about our safety and how we can move forward. The conversations were very positive and many goals were derived from the meeting. … The conversations are not over.”
Living in fear is not helpful, Recker said. She said education is the most important way to change attitudes. Even the straight community needs to be aware, she said.
“Straight people don’t have any more guarantees than we do,” she said. “Both sides need to be educated to live and work in a society that may not be their best friend.
“You think it’d never happen … but it did,” she said.
Transgender Day of Remembrance has grown each year: the first event was held in 2011 at Levis Square with eight people standing outside in the snow, Recker said. Last year, 100 people squeezed into a room at Sylvania United Church of Christ that could only hold 80. This year, the event will be held in the church’s sanctuary and Recker hopes to fill it.
Recker said it’s an event that provides a glimpse of the brutality the transgender community goes through.
“The stronger we are there, the stronger we are the next day on the street,” Recker said.