On Saturday, November 20, the South Orange-Maplewood community held its 7th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance observance with a flag raising in South Orange Village, a reading of the names of those lost to anti-trans violence and a recommitment “as our two towns and school district to supporting our Trans and Non-binary community,” according to South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education member Shannon Cuttle.
Cuttle is the first trans non-binary elected official to serve on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education (currently as First Vice President of the Board) and last year was the first trans non-binary elected official in New Jersey to serve as a delegate (Biden/Harris) at the Democratic National Convention.
National Transgender Day of Remembrance was originally founded in 1999, as a day of awareness regarding the violence endured by trans and non-binary persons. The South Orange-Maplewood observance was started by Cuttle and Steve Mershon, and was hosted this year by Cuttle, Maplewood Deputy Mayor Dean Dafis and South Orange Trustee Bob Zuckerman.
Other town officials attending included: South Orange Village President Sheena Collum, South Orange Trustee Karen Hilton, Newark LGBTQ Center Board Chair Denise Hinds, and Former Newark BOE Member and Essex County LGBTQ Caucus Chair Reggie Bledsoe.
“Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance an annual day where we honor the memory of Trans and non-binary persons lost by acts of anti-trans violence,” wrote Cuttle on their Facebook page. “2021 has been the deadliest year on record of fatal violence against Trans and Non-binary persons around the world – with a majority of those lost to violence Black and Latinx Trans Women. 2021 has also been a record year of anti-trans legislation, polices and attacks on Trans, Non-binary and LGB books and materials.”
Cuttle continued, “We honor and remember the over 380 Trans and non-binary persons globally lost to anti-Trans violence in 2021, that we know of and also give light to those we don’t yet know their names. Now more than ever we need allies to be upstanders to speak up and against anti-trans hate speech, bias and discrimination. We need allies to take action against anti-trans stigma, injustice and hurtful and harmful legislation, polices and attempts to delegitimize our existence and well-being.”
On Saturday evening, Cuttle also joined a TDOR vigil in Newark.
“Visibility matters. Representation matters,” Cuttle told Village Green. “Being an ally matters. Transgender and Non-binary students, staff and families should feel safe welcomed and affirmed across our schools and communities.”
On Monday, November 15, the South Orange-Maplewood BOE began Transgender Awareness Week by joining in an amicus brief supporting a transgender student. Drew Adams, in his suit against the School Board of St. Johns County, Florida over discriminatory facilities policies. Read more here.
About Transgender Awareness Week:
About Transgender Day of Remembrance 2021:
How to be a better Transgender ally:
Say Their Names: