The BOSS Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance Tree Planting
Tree planting led by Ollie Daniels, BOSS gardener at USV, with help from Property Operations Director Eric Zibbel, and Casa Maria Program Manager DeShannon Williamson.

“I know many people who are starting to refer to the Trans(gender) Day of Remembrance as the Trans Day of Resilience!”, Reverend Sandhya Jha said before her invocation. This change in thought and deed speaks to the hardships endured by our Trans community.

Last year BOSS had a young trans-identified homeless woman named Jesse stay at one of our emergency housing programs. Some time after she left the program, Jesse committed suicide. Sadly, this is not an isolated event and trans-identified persons face numerous barriers to success in far greater percentages than cisgendered individuals. Trans-identified individuals are far more likely to be victims of violence and bullying, far more likely to be fired or laid off, more likely to engage in self-harm, including addiction, eating disorders, cutting, and even suicide, and are impoverished and homeless at far greater percentages than any other demographic. If a trans-identified individual is also a person of color, those numbers, tragically, grow exponentially.

November 20th is a National Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is a day for recognizing the people we have lost, but also a day to remember how far we have come in recognition, equality, and acceptance. This year BOSS held a tree-planting at The Ursula Sherman Village so we can remember Jesse, her struggle, and the struggle of others like her. The tree was a Eureka Lemon tree. Staff worked lovingly to plant the little lemon tree, then everyone wrote Wishes and Hopes to Jesse, to the Trans-identified persons in our community, and to the world at large on paper lemons and hung them from the tree. A small iron sculpture dog now sits to keep the Jesse Tree company.

YaNi, Christine, and DeShannon hang paper lemons with messages of hope from the little lemon tree.
YaNi, Christine, and DeShannon hang paper lemons with messages of hope from the little lemon tree.

Denise, a BOSS employee who worked with Jesse, remembered her as a kind person who was bright and struggled to accept love from the people around her. Local spoken word artist, YaNi performed “Hush Hush” bringing tears and call-backs from more than a few in attendance.

BOSS welcomes, embraces, and supports all persons, regardless of ethnicity, religion, creed, LGBTQ identity, or any other demographic particular. We hope that recognizing Jesse, remembering her, and keeping her spirit alive will be a positive message to others who are struggling.

“We are all made of Light and Dark. The one we engage in, is the one which defines us. Engage in the Light.”, Donald Frazier, Executive Director of BOSS.

Get more information on LGBTQ Youth here. If you, or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help.