6 monuments that commemorate transgender lives all year long

This Transgender Day of Remembrance, let’s celebrate our beautiful, growing trans community by highlighting these trans-specific tributes across America.

Marsha P. Johnson Monument – New York City

New York City first announced plans to build a monument honoring trans activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera in 2019. These remarkable individuals were gay rights pioneers and the founders of STAR, a political collective that provided housing and support to the unhoused LGBTQ community of Lower Manhattan.

When those plans did not pan out, NYC activists erected a semi-renegade tribute themselves. Sculpted by queer artist Jesse Pallotta, this bust of Marsha P. Johnson now stands in Christopher Park next to the Gay Liberation Monument, nearby to the historic Stonewall Inn. The plaque features a quote from Johnson herself: “History isn’t something you look back at and say it was inevitable, it happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive and of the moment, but those moments are cumulative realities.”

The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu – Honolulu, Hawaii

Also known by its Hawaiian name Nā Pōhaku Ola O Kapaemāhū Ā Kapuni, this unique monument to healing and inclusion is located steps from the sandy shores of Waikiki Beach. Placed as a tribute to four mahu, a Polynesian term for transgender or non-binary individuals, Kapaemahu has to be one of the most serene LGBTQ landmarks in the world.

Transgender Memorial Garden – St. Louis, Missouri

Transgender Memorial Garden
photo via Facebook

The Transgender Memorial Garden in St. Louis is the first garden in the United States to honor the lives of transgender victims of violence, the second of its kind in the entire world (The very first one being in Manchester, England).

In 2015, a group of around 60 trans activists and allies transformed a vacant lot into this beautiful garden. The winding path meanders through a grove of Hackberry and Redbud Trees and ends in a community circle honoring the lives of transgender people that have been lost to violence.

Black Trans Lives Matter – San Francisco

Black Trans Lives Matter Road Mural
Compton’s Transgender District (Photo by Gooch)

Before the birth of the Castro District, the Tenderloin was San Francisco’s first official gay ‘hoodIt was the site of the Compton Cafeteria Riots of 1966, one of the very first LGBTQ protests in US history. This area is home to one of the city’s oldest gay bars, Aunt Charlie’s, various art spaces, gathering sites, and hotels with cultural significance to the trans community.

Though many members of the LGBTQ community have moved, the neighborhood still houses a very large trans population. In fact, the Tenderloin has the densest population of transgender people in the US, with an ongoing, documented presence of trans residents since as early as the 1920s.

Thunderhead – Ottawa

This federal monument to Canada’s two-spirit community is set to be completed by 2025. The austere structure, commemorating the victims and survivors of Canada’s LGBT Purge, will create a cloud-shaped, disco ball-inspired alcove fit for protests and performances.

“All of the other national monuments in Ottawa should be 10% queer, but they’re not. We want to create one that is 110% queer, 110% ours. An identifiably queer space that welcomes everyone, 365 days of the year,” said design team member Shawna Dempsey during an announcement. “We want this monument to be a highly-visible symbol of how we survived, asserting that we are proudly, unapologetically here and will be invisible no longer.”

Marsha P. Johnson Memorial Fountain – New York City

This historical landmark sits on Pier 45 at Hudson River Park. Marsha P Johnson’s body was said to be found floating near the said pier in 1992. Unfortunately, the memorial is completely unmarked without a plaque to commemorate Johnson’s life.

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