Fresno advocates to host Transgender Day of Remembrance memorial

In August, a memorial grows near the central Fresno site where “Casey” or “Kenton Craig” Haggard was attacked and killed.
In August, a memorial grows near the central Fresno site where “Casey” or “Kenton Craig” Haggard was attacked and killed. ezamora@fresnobee.com

Fresno supporters will host a memorial Saturday for the 10th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Trans-E-Motion, a local support group for transgender people, will host the event starting at 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno at 2672 E. Alluvial Ave. in northeast Fresno.

The focus is a memorial honoring transgender people who have died by suicide or hate crimes during the past year. The observance will include dance, spoken word and poetry performances, food, an art display and a resource fair.

A recent Guardian article said the number of murders of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the United States hit an all-time high this year: 22, compared with 12 last year, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. That’s despite increased mainstream visibility through transgender celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox of the cable television series “Orange Is the New Black.”

Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed internationally each year. But this year hits close to home for Fresno advocates because among those killed was “Casey” or “Kenton Craig” Haggard.

Haggard died after being stabbed in the neck by a man in an SUV around 2 a.m. July 23 while walking alone near Blackstone and Cornell avenues in central Fresno. Advocates said the 66-year-old had recently started transitioning from male to female. Haggard had not come out as such to family and friends.

Transgender people also are disproportionately at risk of suicide. A 2014 study showed 41 percent of transgender or gender non-conforming people have attempted suicide – nearly nine times the national average – according to researchers at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Those statistics reach Fresno, too. In 2010, Buchanan High School graduate Chloe Lacey committed suicide. Her mother, Allison Murphy, said in a Bee story at the time that she believed Lacey worried about being accepted by society despite having her mother’s acceptance.

Andrea Castillo: 559-441-6279, @andreamcastillo