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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Dozens honor Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman from Boston whose murder remains unsolved

Courtesy of The History Project

As part of Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremonies, dozens gathered over Zoom to honor the legacy of the Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman from Allston, Mass. who was brutally murdered in 1998. 

The event was hosted by The History Project: Out of the Archives on Nov. 19, and included a discussion with journalists Cristela Guerra and Kate Sosin, who continue to investigate Hester’s death. 

When police responded to a call at Hester’s apartment on the day of her death, she was still alive. But police waited more than an hour to bring Hester to the hospital. 

Hester’s unsolved murder led to the creation of the annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance to honor those who have lost their lives to transphobia. Sosin and Guerra took on investigating Hester’s murder back in August of 2019, after they met earlier that year. 

Sosin described the initial investigation as “quickly going cold” after a one page police report was filed on the incident, but that there was something unusual about Hester’s case. Diana Hester, Rita’s mother, was never updated on her case even after the Boston Police Department had reopened the case in 2006, according to reporting by Sosin for NBC News.

Guerra said that Hester’s case was unlike other cold cases she had worked on in the past, stating that it felt like “so many people just set it aside.” The Hester family believes that this is because Hester was a Black transgender woman.

“I’d like to make sure we keep tabs on this. I’d like for us to continue the work, and I do think that we can solve it,”  Guerra said. 

The journalists also discussed the story of Matthew Shepard; a young gay man who had been murdered a month prior and gained widespread news coverage quickly. These two tragedies showed a stark contrast in the nation’s response, since there was little knowledge of Rita Hester’s murder outside of her Boston area community. 

People at the event who knew Hester described her as being a “really positive presence” and a beloved member of the queer community in and around Boston. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded the following year after Hester’s death, and has been honored internationally every year on Nov., 20.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual vigil for transgender homicide victims, has been instrumental in humanizing transgender people in the eyes of the media, the police and the wider public,” Sosin said. “For many in the trans community, the day is the only annual gathering they have.”

So far in 2020, there have been at least “38 transgender or gender non-conforming people” killed in the United States and Puerto Rico, according to the Human Rights Campaign. A transgender pride flag was displayed from a balcony in Sarget Hall on Friday to remember the lives that have been lost. 

Courtesy of Suffolk’s Queer Student Union

If you would like to learn more about Rita Hester’s story and Sosin and Guerra’s investigation, a recording of the event is available on Youtube.


Follow Hailey on Twitter!@haiIeycampbell

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About the Contributor
Hailey Campbell, Staff Writer | she/they
Hailey is a sophomore from Houston, Texas, and is a political science major. She enjoys spending her free time collecting coffee mugs, catching flights and wandering museums. She has moved around the country a ton and will happily talk your ear off about it. After graduation, she wants to be a lawyer in a big city. Follow Hailey on Twitter @haiIeycampbell

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    RonnetteNov 28, 2020 at 7:29 am

    very nice information

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Dozens honor Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman from Boston whose murder remains unsolved