Tree dedication at VCU honors murdered transgender people

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Last month the president reversed guidelines put out by his predecessor requiring public schools to let transgender students use the restroom of their choice. The decision prompted protests and criticism from the LGBTQ community.

“A lot of people don’t believe the seriousness of the issues,” said Keri Abrams who is transgender.

Keri Abrams

Friday, police, advocates and members of the transgender community joined together to dedicate a tree in the middle of Richmond, behind VCU police headquarters, to honor and remember transgender people who were killed. 27 were killed last year, and two of these were from Virginia.

“Last year was a record setter for how many transgender people were killed,” Abrams said.

Others took to the podium to talk about their experiences.

“My first lover died as a result of a hate crime, and although [he] was not transgender, his life and death inspire my work,” said Kenneth Decker, who pushed for the dedication.

“It’s very important for me, someone who has transitioned to a straight, white man, and has the privileges that come along with that, to advocate for those who may not necessarily have those privileges,” said transgender VCU student Andrew Wilson.

Advocates say the dedication is a reminder of the reality that transgender people face every day.

“The beauty of it also is a statement of reality, and it’s a harsh reality,” said Abrams.

Abrams says that despite what’s happened at the White House, she’s seeing more support from law enforcement and communities than ever before.

“They do understand our needs, they do understand the impact that hate and violence can have in our community,” Abrams said.

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