Remembrance and Education to Increase Awareness and Prevent Violence

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Statistics show that people in marginalized communities are more likely to face discrimination, hate crimes, violence and even homicide. These communities often consist of people of color, people experiencing homelessness and people who identify as LGBTQ+. 

People who identify as transgender (or non-binary) face even greater challenges to health and safety. In 2021, at least 46 transgender or gender non-conforming individuals were fatally shot or killed. In the last year:

•    62% of transgender persons experienced discrimination;
•    84% of transgender women were discriminated; and 
•    85% of transgender persons of color faced discrimination (78% of them, women). 

To help raise awareness and eliminate the violence and discrimination in the trans community, the County of Santa Clara joins other municipalities and organizations across the country to commemorate Nov. 20 as the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. This day was started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. 

The County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors recognized the 2021 Transgender Day of Remembrance at its most recent meeting.

Zoom screen capture of the Board of Supervisors and members of the Office of LGBTQ Affairs recognizing Transgender Day of Remembrance

The County of Santa Clara Office of LGBTQ Affairs and TransCanWork, Inc. will host a local virtual ceremony: Trans Day of Remembrance - The Historical and Human Experience. The event will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, November 18. To register, go to

The dehumanization of transgender people leads to violence

Sera Fernando, a transgender rights activist and Senior Management Analyst for the County of Santa Clara Office of LGBTQ Affairs marches in Los Gatos in support of the trans community.
Sera Fernando (left), a transgender rights activist and employee at the County of Santa Clara Office of LGBTQ Affairs marches in Los Gatos in support of the trans community.

Education can provide necessary avenues to break down barriers that cause implicit bias towards marginalized communities. To help eliminate stigma and bias, the County has an Office of LGBTQ Affairs to take real and tangible action. The staff goes out in the community and conducts trainings for non-profit groups and other government organizations. These educational efforts help amplify awareness and make workplaces inclusive for all, by getting people to understand their preconceived notions and tearing down systems of institutional bias. 

“People think that there isn’t discrimination towards the trans Community in an area as progressive and affluent as Santa Clara County,” said Sera Fernando from the County of Santa Clara Office of LGBTQ Affairs. “However, there are tremendous disparities when it comes to hate crimes and incidents against trans people in our community. We want to do everything we can to identify how systemic implicit bias physically and mentally harms trans bodies and provide recommendations to reduce or eliminate anti-trans violence.”

The Office of LGBTQ Affairs informs policy decisions, such as creating the County’s proposed Gender Inclusion Policy. It also develops programs throughout Santa Clara County to build a more inclusive society for all. Data shows that, something as simple as changing a restroom sign, is beneficial to everyone and improves levels of understanding. Through the “All-gender Restroom Sign Program,” the Office provides free signs to small businesses to help update their bathroom signage. This simple step can make people of all genders feel safer.

Quote from Sera Fernando about Transgender Day of Remembrance

The Office also holds community events like the Trans Day of Remembrance and sponsors proclamations to help amplify the lives of community members who are sometimes forgotten by society. It works to ensure County departments and partner organizations have the tools necessary to recognize systemic bias, especially in justice and housing – areas where trans people are often discriminated against. 

Education can be the key to acceptance 

To end the cycle of violence against all people, including those who identify as transgender and non-binary, we must do away with our pre-conceived notions of bias and hate. The County has resources for people to educate themselves and be more accepting of persons who may be different than them. These efforts help make Santa Clara County a safe and healthy community for all. 

To learn what you can do to be an ally to all people, especially those that are marginalized in our society, go to

By Matthew Rudig, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2020 Memorial sign with candles and vigil
A Memorial from the 2020 Transgender Day of Remembrance

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