SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community gathered to remember transgender people who’s lives were lost in acts of violence. A vigil was held at Savannah City Hall for Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The city of Savannah is celebrating Transgender Awareness Week for the very first time ever.

The Hostess City is marking a day in history to stand by the transgender community. Candles shined bright as a group of advocates read the names of 34 transgender people whose lives were violently taken.

Transgender Day of Remembrance was started in 1999 by trans advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a black transgender woman who was killed in 1998.

“It would be so much better if we took the time to practice love. Love is patient and love is kind,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said.

The pink and blue flag that represents the transgender community was displayed in the city’s rotunda. It’s something Whitney Anderson never thought she’d see.

“I never thought I would see 350 of my brothers and sisters killed for no reason as well. So when I see this city coming together to fight this bigotry and this prejudice that we have fought so hard for so long, it is just something that warms my heart,” Anderson said.

J Robinson-Graham is also a transgender woman in Savannah who is proud to see the city’s growth. She grew up trying to discover who she really is and now in 2020 it’s much easier to do that, but she says there’s still work to be done.

“I’m just here to be an example. Number one, not all transgender women are alike. We are important, we do serve a purpose in this community. We are hardworking individuals, we have clock in jobs, we have businesses, we are christians, we love the lord, we love people, and all we want is that same love and reciprocation,” Robinson-Graham said.

PROUD Savannah will host a virtual panel discussion from 2-3 p.m. Friday afternoon. It will focus on topics important to Savannah’s transgender community, including personal stories, violence in the trans community, housing and employment challenges, and the resources available for trans youth, trans elders, and parents of trans children.