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Denton groups plan public transgender remembrance vigil

Profile image for Lucinda Breeding
Lucinda Breeding

A Denton ministry has teamed up with three advocacy groups to observe Transgender Remembrance Day, which honors and mourns transgender people killed worldwide on Monday. 

Open Worship, a First United Methodist Church of Denton ministry promoting inclusion, joins OUTreach Denton, the city's LGBT advocacy resource, and Denton Trans-cendance, the local chapter of the international support group for transgender people, their families and friends and University of North Texas Pride Alliance, the university's LGBT advocacy group. 

Denton Transgender Remembrance Day starts at 7 p.m. on Monday on the downtown Denton Courthouse on the Square, 110 W. Hickory. 

Open Worship will host a Transgender Day of Remembrance Labyrinth Walk at 5:45 p.m. at 111 E. Sycamore St. At 6:45 p.m., those who participate in the labyrinth walk will have a candlelight procession to the Square. 

The event was established  by OUTreach Denton several years ago, and Daniel Bryant-Gawne, the chapter director of Denton Trans-cendence, said this year is the first for a Christian group to join the ceremony.

"I think it sends a message of inclusivity, and that’s awesome," he said. "Sometimes, LGBT people feel like we’re alone out here, and this is a church — a Christian church — that’s huge."

Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, a congregation that has offered full inclusion to LGBT people for decades, played a pivotal role in establishing OUTreach Denton, but has been the sole religious community to be part of the event.

Rev. Pamela Wat, pastor of Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and a founding steering committee member of OUTreach Denton, will open Monday's observance on the Square with an inclusive invocation.

"We're going to have music, spoken word  and then the featured speaker," Bryant-Gawne said. "We’re going to do the reading of the names of transgender people people who were killed in the last year. We're adding the names of some of the people we can confirm died by suicide, too."

Bryant-Gawne said volunteers will take turns reading the names of about 300 people. As the names are read, the groups will hand out cups containing electric candles to those in attendance. The cups will bear the name of one of the dead, Bryant-Gawne said. 

"The idea is that these people's names will be carried from the event back out into the world," he said. "One of the important things to me is that this is happening outdoors and not in a building somewhere in town. Doing this outside makes what we're doing so much more visible. Visibility is a big thing to me."