Founded in 1999 by a transgender woman, Gwendolyn Ann Smith in an effort to memorialise the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts, this week is Trans Awareness Week with today (Nov 20) marking International Transgender Day Of Remembrance (ITDoR).

And while in Australia, there are some communities who  will still be able to come together to mark this date in solidarity, there are others that due to COVID-19, will no longer be able to come together in the physical sense. Particularly in South Australia, with that state now in hard lockdown those already too marginalised, those already isolated parts of the community will feel these effects even more.

Already this week, Feast Festival have had to make the difficult decision of cancelling this year’s much-loved Picnic In The Park, with many other events either being cancelled or postponed to a later date. For the rest of Australia, what has taken place in South Australia stands as a timely reminder that this pandemic is far from over.

As part of Feast Festival’s 2020 program there were to be two events held in remembrance of those trans brothers and sisters, that we have lost. However, the latest lockdown has complicated plans, asProgram and Events Coordinator at Feast Festival Gail Ellis explained.

“We’ve already been dealt a huge blow with Feast Festival having to cancel our major event Picnic In The Park and postpone a range of other events since the recent restrictions. ITDoR is not only a significant event for the LGBTQI communities but it is a day that we all can truly pay our respects to transgender people who have paved the way for us.”

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 In response to the latest lockdown measures Feast Festival will be moving the event to an online platform, so the community can still celebrate the trans, gender diverse and non-binary communities and pay their respects.

The fact that International Transgender Day Of Remembrance began as a web-based project to raise awareness before it moved into a physical vigil, finally becoming the internationally recognised day it is today is a point not lost on Ellis.

“Moving the event online isn’t ideal as we lack the in-person community connection of these events. However ,in a year that has challenged us and made us even more reliant on the connections of the internet, there is something oddly poetic about heading back to ITDoR’s original roots of being a web based project of change.”

In what can only be described as an immensely difficult set of circumstances, Feast Festival’s ability to adapt to change and to continue to connect with Adelaide’s LGBTQI communities is not only commendable, it is crucial in a year that none of us will forget in a hurry.

The now online vigil for International Transgender Day Of Remembrance will be held tonight, at 7pm Adelaide local time (6.30pm AEDT).

For more info, or to reserve your free ticket, you can head to the event website.

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