Originally published: Nov. 21, 2011, 9:56 a.m.
Updated: Nov. 21, 2011, 11:02 a.m.

Transgender political activist Roberta Dunn, a member of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte Board of Directors, led the Charlotte Transgender Day of Remembrance observance. Photo Credit: Nicole Oliver, NeaMatt Photography, NeaMattPhotography.com.

CHARLOTTE — LGBT community members and their straight allies gathered on Sunday for a special Transgender Day of Remembrance memorial and reception. About 75 people attended the event held at the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte. Organizers said the day is meant to honor those transgender people who lost their lives to hatred and violence in the past year.

Unity Fellowship Church's Bishop Tonyia Rawls (l-r) is joined by openly gay Buddhist Priest Ryusho Jeffus and MCC Charlotte Pastor Catherine Houchin for a blessing during the event's vigil.

“These murders have not been solved,” said Synthia Clippard, a transgender woman and member of Charlotte’s Unity Fellowship Church. “I don’t want these murders to be swept under the rug as if their lives didn’t mean anything — they did mean something.”

According to organizers, 21 people across the U.S. and other parts of the world are known to have died at the hand violence or in some other hate-crime-related death. Those gathered also remembered unknown victims and those, like community activist Pamela Jones, who died of natural causes.

Pamela Jones was a true pioneer here in Charlotte for the LGBT community,” said Roberta Dunn, a transgender political activist and LGBT Community Center board member. “When I first moved to Charlotte, I was shy. I attended meetings with [Jones] at the Charlotte Gender Alliance. She helped so very many people, including me, learn and have the courage to be who we are.”

District 1 City Councilmember Patsy Kinsey was among the memorial service’s participants. She said too many transgender men’s and women’s lives had been taken for no other reason than “hatred, fear and intolerance.”

Along with other speakers, Kinsey also remembered Tony Alston, a transgender Charlottean whose April 2010 murder remains unsolved.

“[Alston’s] murder, like too many, is still unsolved,” Kinsey said. “Even one unsolved murder is too many.”

Kinsey asserted that hatred and violence has no place in the community.

“It is not acceptable here in Charlotte and it is not acceptable anywhere else,” she said.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a national observance held annually on Nov. 20. Other communities across the state held similar ceremonies. In Raleigh, community members assembled at the State Capitol with a reception held afterward at the LGBT Center of Raleigh. In Durham, participants met at Fullsteam Brewery. Asheville community members held similar observances at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium at the Asheville Civic Center, followed by a march to downtown’s Vance Monument.

— Lainey Millen contributed

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.