Activists rallied at the Capitol on Sunday in remembrance of transgender Missourians killed in hate crimes during the past year.
They also had a message for the public: They're ordinary people, not the "monsters" some make them out to be.
"We all have the same hopes and dreams. We all bleed red," organizer Cathy Serino said.
But she said each day, they live in fear that they will be the next one on the list of transgender people killed because of hatred.
The remembrance day has been observed nationally since the 1998 murder of Rita Hester, a Boston transgender leader. This is the third year it has been held in Jefferson City.
Serino said the transgender community needs to work for equality, including the Missouri Non-Discrimination Act, which has been unsuccessfully pushed in the Missouri Legislature for years. Even transgender supporters who don't want to have "targets" on their backs can still work behind the scenes, Serino said.
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Serino, a Linn resident, said 26 transgender people were killed in the United States over the past year, including two from Missouri. One of those two was Ally Steinfeld, a transgender teen whose was stabbed, burned and had her eyes gouged out. Four people were charged with murder in the case.
Emmett Key, of Columbia, said coming out as a transgender person was difficult and only happened recently after hanging out at the LGBT center at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Key and others said they constantly fear for the safety of themselves or their loved ones. Some told of incidents of facing discrimination or hatred at school or the workplace.
"I think it's really important that we make it more prevalent that trans-women, trans-men and non-binary people have solidarity," said Salem Sanfilippo Solindas, who attended the event with her mother. "While there are differences between us it's really important that we unite, because if we don't, nothing's going to get done."
Solindas writes for the Red & Black newspaper at Jefferson City High School and has received both support and rude comments from people.
"Don't be quiet. I know that it's not vary safe for us at this point, but get your voice heard because it's so important," Solindas said.