Transgender Memorial Garden in St. Louis: “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”

 

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“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” #transrightsarehumanrights

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The first US garden memorial to transgender people whose lives were cut short by violence can be found in St. Louis, Missouri.

Worldwide, trans people are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and hate crimes. In 2019, an estimated 27 trans or gender non-conforming people were killed in the US.

Worldwide, the situation is even worse. Between Transgender Day of Remembrance in November 2018 and November 2019, an estimated 331 were killed, with 130 alone in Brazil.

The real figure could be considerably higher. Some people go missing and are never found, while others are misgendered or their deaths go unreported. It highlights the disparities and unique challenges facing trans people in a time when the trans community is under attack by the Trump administration, which has barred trans people from serving in the military while attempting to roll back health protections.

Behind such alarming figures and conservative political reactions, every death is a tragedy. Commemorating the people and the suffering behind the headlines is the aim of the St. Louis’ Transgender Memorial Garden.

Set up in 2015 by volunteers, it is the first garden in the United States to honor the lives of transgender victims of violence (and the second in the world after a similar initiative in Manchester, England). It was dedicated on November 20, 2015: Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Related: St. Louis observes Transgender Day of Remembrance; Caitlyn Jenner attends 

The garden is located at 1469 S. Vandeventer Avenue (at the intersection with Hunt Avenue) in The Grove neighborhood. The garden was launched and coordinated by the St. Louis Metro Trans Umbrella Group. It was launched with the help of the organization, Plant for Peace STL, which donated 34 trees. A path winds through Hackberry and Redbud trees, leading to a community circle: a quiet place for contemplation.

There are also some raised perennial beds, and some plants were used specifically to attract butterflies. The insects represent transformation for many in the trans community.

 

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An entrance sign features an engraved quote from Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos: “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”

The garden has also been the site of events. In June 2016, around 1,000 people attended a candlelit vigil at the garden following the Pulse shooting in Orlando.

Those tending the site are always happy to hear from new volunteers who wish to help with the garden. They host a garden clean-up session once a month, with details posted to the garden’s Facebook page.

Related: Remembering heroes on Chicago’s amazing Legacy Walk

 

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#STL is preparing for #tdor2019 observations at #transmemorialgarden 📸 @stlmetrotrans

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