Kareen Washington, found on the 29th of August in New
Jersey, stabbed several times in the back and throat,

Chareka Keys, found dead on the loading dock of an
abandoned factory in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 27th, a
victim of blunt force trauma to the head.
She had no idea that her vigil to honor Rita Hester, and all other trans people who had
been murdered but not remembered, would become Transgender Day of Remembrance. She
simply wanted to do something about her “sense of frustration, seeing our community not
seemingly having any idea of these murders, and feeling that they might not even care. I believe
the term I used for myself on that back then was that I would be ‘shouting into the wilderness.’”
But, the wilderness heard her. She wasn’t alone on the corner like she thought she would be.
Twenty-five people joined her in San Francisco, and there was also a vigil in Boston, led
by Penni Ashe Matz. The next year’s vigil had 14 locations across the country and memorialized
18 people killed since the last vigil(“Gender Education and Advocacy - Gender.org”). The third
about 100 locations. From the third year on, high schools and college campuses began to observe
it, too. In her book, Excluded, Julia Serano describes Transgender Day of Remembrance as a
uniquely inclusive event, “where trans people of all races and ethnicities, all generations, and all
economic classes come together to pay respects to those in our community that have been
murdered” (Serano 26).
Her reputation as an activist grew with each year that TDOR spread to a new city. Later
in 1999, Gwen won the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society Founders Award, Transit Case. In
2000, she received a San Francisco Board of Supervisors Certificate of Honor for her creation of
Transgender Day of Remembrance. Also in 2000, she began writing her column, Transmissions.
Gwen became very busy. She shared with me all of her responsibilities:
“A board member Gender Education & Advocacy (GEA) and Female to Male
International (FTMI), as well as a member of GLAAD’s Transgender Visibility Project, the
Transgender Political Caucus, San Francisco, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist
Association, the America Online Gender Group (AOLGG), the Gay and Lesbian Historical
Society of Northern California’s Transgender Community Advisory Committee, GLAAD’s
Monitor and Response Committee: Internet filtering software, TG Rage, and the aforementioned
Transgender Civil Rights Implementation Task Force, San Francisco (TGCRITF). Also, quite
honestly, a few I've likely forgotten.”
In 2002, she won the PWR Talk Outstanding Person Award, a talk radio show award. She
was extremely busy serving on all the boards, writing her column, and keeping the Remembering
Our Dead website updated and accurate. I asked her how she balanced all of the competing
responsibilities, she laughed and said, “Balance? What's that? Seriously, some days it felt like I
was spinning infinite plates.” She wrote her column Transmissions, starting in 2001, and when
she wasn’t serving on boards and doing policy work, she researched through newspaper archives
about murder. She has said that,
“One of the troubles with working so intensely on a project like Remembering Our Dead
is that you begin to anticipate the next murder. You begin to realize that it has been two, three
weeks since you last heard of a case, and you begin to feel like something is coming. Such was
the case with Gwen Araujo. I had been in my office and had that thought, that it had been too
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