by: Cole Heath, Action News Jax Updated:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - 2016 still has a full month left on the calendar, but it already marks the deadliest year ever for the transgender community in the United States.
That’s why the LGBT community came together to remember the dead and push for change at a vigil Wednesday night at University of North Florida.
The vigil comes in the wake of violence and intimidation nationwide.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has already tracked hundreds of cases of alleged hate crimes across the country since the election.
Candles lit up the faces of mourners at UNF remembering the more than 20 transgender people killed in 2016 alone, the deadliest on record in the U.S.
“It’s upsetting knowing people like me have died because of this stuff,” mourner Max Buckner said.
“It’s always been fearful, it was a risk we take going out every day,” mourner Aaron Bentley said.
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The violence has spread across the LGBT community this year, most notably during the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando where 49 people died.
Elias Flynn Joseph knew one of the victims, and got the news over social media.
“Literally I was shocked, I was terrified,” Joseph said.
New statistics show how violent a year it’s been for the entire LGBT community nationwide.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is tracking reports of hateful threats, harassment and intimidation across the country.
The group’s received more than 400 since the election alone; with immigrants, the black community and gays experiencing most of the attacks.
However on Wednesday night on UNF’s campus, only messages of encouragement, acceptance and love rang out.
“We have to come together through tragedy, but it's good we're coming together,” Joseph said.
Meanwhile, Action News Jax has recently covered incidents where supporters of President-elect Donald Trump have also been attacked and harassed.
In a recent interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes, President-elect Trump told those creating the incidents to stop.
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