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SF City Hall lights up to celebrate Transgender Awareness Week

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Mayor extends the week of awareness to the entire month of November

Blue, pink, and white lights on the San Francisco City Hall. Photos by Adam L Brinklow

From Monday through Wednesday, San Francisco City Hall sported a striking blue, pink, and white color scheme at night as a tribute to Transgender Awareness Week.

The dome and columns of the city’s stately Beaux-Arts structure sport 220 LED lights that provide nighttime illumination—and a frequently changing color scheme that commemorates everything from local sports franchises (go Warriors) to political and social causes.

This week’s pastel display mimicked the colors of the Transgender Pride flag, acknowledging the second week of November as Transgender Awareness Week.

But San Francisco went a few steps further than one week; Mayor London Breed declared the entirety of November Transgender Awareness Month in the city. This does not translate to a month-long transgender flag-themed lighting spread at City Hall—which is too bad, given how well the shades suit the building.

According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation [GLAAD]:

Transgender Awareness Week [November 12-19] is a time for transgender people and their allies to take action and bring attention to the community by educating the public and advancing advocacy around the issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence that transgender people face.

[...] Transgender Day of Remembrance [November 20] was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor her memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and began an important memorial that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that anti-transgender violence hit a “new all-time high” in the U.S. in 2017. The organization notes that it is difficult to record and quantify anti-transgender hate crimes because of “inaccurate and incomplete reporting” and because “families are often hesitant to identify victims as transgender people.”

According to the Smithsonian, activist Monica Helms designed the pink, blue, and white Transgender Pride flag and colors in 1999. The colors and pattern are a subversive play on the light pink and blue color coding long used in the U.S. as shorthand for baby genders.

On Thursday, City Hall will switch over to a green night lighting scheme to acknowledge the “Common Sense Media Awards,” then adopt a red and white look on Friday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Latvian independence.

Since switching to the digitally-controlled LED light system in 2016, changing the colors on City Hall has become much faster and easier. A schedule of upcoming lighting schemes can be found here.