A candlelight commemoration ceremony was held last week in Yangon’s People’s Park for transgendered victims of hate crimes. Gay and lesbian participants observed a two-minute silence at the event, which was also celebrated in 10 other townships throughout the country.
The Memorial for Transgenders on November 20 was intended to raise general awareness of the gay, lesbian and transgender (LGBT) community, said Ko Tin Ko Ko, coordinator of the Kings N Queens LGBT Group.
“We hold this Memorial Day to let them know the [history],” said Ko Tin Ko Ko.
Similar events were held simultaneously in Myitkyina, Monywa, Shwebo, Kyaukpadaung, Pyay, Mandalay, Kalaw, Lashio and Kawthaung, said Ko Hla Myat Tun, program officer of the organisation Colour Rainbow.
“Some township authorities didn’t allow the event because of their doubts about us. So we contacted groups of LGBT from those townships and explained what they should do,” said Ko Hla Myat Tun, adding that last year the event took place in only five townships, and in Yangon had to be held in a hotel room.
“We were glad to be able to hold the commemoration in public this year. Many people were able to see us and join us,” he said.
Suu Choe, a lesbian who attended the event, said she had faced the problems of being a transgender since she was young.
“I liked to dress and live like a tomboy since I was young, but my family and schoolmates didn’t like it. I’ve experienced much discrimination, including from teachers, though some friends accepted me. The worst was that my family discriminated against me. I just wanted to be accepted,” said Suu Choe.
Make-up artist Nyan Nyan, who attended the event, said he makes a point never to miss LGBT community events.
“I always attended events for gays. There is less discrimination now. We can find work easily and most of us can make a living. I appreciate the development of these organisations.”