Transgender remembrance gathering held in Charlotte

Event commemorates fallen transgender people, honors Charlotte's Toni Alston

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: November 22, 2010 in News

Originally published: Nov. 18, 2010, 12:23 p.m.
Updated: Nov. 22, 2010, 11:40 a.m.

More than 50 people gathered at Charlotte’s Lesbian & Gay Community Center on Saturday, Nov. 20, to pay their respects and remember transgender victims of hate violence and other crimes during 2010. Among those participating in the special Transgender Day of Remembrance event were several family members of Toni Alston, a transgender Charlottean murdered in April.

Toni Alston's sisters speak during a special Transgender Day of Remembrance event in Charlotte.

Alston’s sisters Donielle Prophete and Kimberly Pitter spoke during the event.

Roberta Dunn, who helped organize the remembrance ceremony and acted as emcee, said it was important to commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrace.

“It is extremely important for the community to gather because several people had no memorial service,” she said of some hate violence victims. “We cannot ever forget our brothers and sisters taken away from us. It is important that we gather here and let everyone know we are here to support every member of our community at all times.”

Dunn, honored recently with an “Equality Champion” award from Equality North Carolina, has been instrumental in improving LGBT community interactions and relations with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department following Alston’s murder.

“I think the relationship with the police department is much better; before it was like zero and now were at level of communicating,” she said after the meeting. “It’s not where it needs to be — we still need a liaison between the police department and community. We need training.”

John Stotler, chair of the Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte, said he was glad his organization could step up to support the special transgender remembrance.

“It is important for the Lesbian & Gay Community Center to be inclusive of our community, whether that’s lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders or allies,” he told qnotes. “Whatever we can do to build bridges in the community we should be doing.”

Other Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremonies were held across the state, including events in Greensboro and Raleigh.