Last Tuesday evening, I attended a vigil for Kenne McFadden in San Antonio. South of the Capitol, a large group of people met along the Riverwalk to board a river barge with Kenne’s mom, two sisters and her aunt. Together, we took a short boat ride through the shallow river as a reverend shared words for those mourning someone who had died, and other expressions of sympathy. The Reverend sang a song while the boat operator paused at the location of a hotel on the river where they pulled Kenne’s body from the water. Kenne’s mother asked for us to stay a little while longer as she began to sing through her tears. Tuesday was Kenne’s 27th birthday. Instead of celebrating the life of Kenne, we were celebrating the end of the violence, pain, and harassment she endured while she lived. The feeling of attending a vigil every time we lose another member of the transgender community is inexplicable. Kenne McFadden is the 12th member of the transgender community we’ve lost this year. We have lost 16 trans folks in the United States this year, all of them people of color. As allies to the trans people color in our community, we need to be more vocal about the tragedies happening around us.
The evening ended with Kenne McFadden’s friends and family dancing to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” together.