Gathering at Hanapepe United Church of Christ raises awareness of hate crimes

HANAPEPE —The names of 87 people were read at Hanapepe United Church of Christ on Sunday.

The ages of the individuals varied, but they each had one thing in common: they were victims of hate crimes targeted at transgender individuals that occurred this year.

The event was part of the 8th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance, and Hanapepe United Church of Christ was one of hundreds of places worldwide where people met in acknowledgement of transgender directed hate crime.

“The importance of this (event) is awareness,” said Elaine Albertson, who organized the event and preached at the church’s morning service.

Albertson, who said she has received death threats many times as a transgender woman, chose “Never Again” for the theme of the afternoon as a way to draw attention to the persecution transgender people have undergone in the past.

The theme has been common among meetings on International Transgender Days of Remembrance and points to things like the pink triangle Adolf Hitler required homosexual men and women to wear, and the persecution that followed.

“Now, we’re faced with the possibility of something like that happening here. I’m very concerned, especially with our political (situation),” Albertson said. “The time is here. We can’t sit back and do nothing.”

This was the first year Kauai joined in with the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, Albertson said, and her hope is the tradition will continue as long as the need to have it persists.

“Committing acts of violence and murder upon transgender people must stop,” said Lisa Arin, Anahola, who attended the event and volunteered to read the names. “It won’t stop until we all as individuals take a stand to stop hatred and stop accepting intolerance.”

Much of the hate-crime violence stems from a lack of understanding the differences between people, Arin said.

“(That) should result in learning and our advancement as a society, not barbarianism and death,” she said. “Mahalo to all those who attended today’s Day of Remembrance and are working to make a difference.”

Once the names were read, the church’s pastor, Michael Christensen, wrapped up the event with group singing.

“The Gospel of Inclusion is God’s will,” Christensen said to the crowd. “We shall overcome.”

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