ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG) has partnered with #Plant4PeaceSTL to create what they believe to be the first transgender memorial garden in the United States at the corner of Vandeventer and Hunt in St. Louis’ Grove neighborhood.
Trees donated by #Plant4PeaceSTL will be placed on October 18, and the group will dedicate the garden on Trans* Day of Remembrance, November 20, in memory of the lives of transgender Americans who have lost their lives to violence.
The idea was born when Leon Braxton, Jr. (a.k.a. Dieta Pepsi) spotted a Facebook announcement from Lewis E. Reed, president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. Reed’s post encouraged citizens to plant trees in a neighborhood gathering place — a place of worship, a recreation center or at the tree lawn outside the home.
Reed further suggested creating a “peace park” for community reflection — a “memorial row” along a visible route. #Plant4PeaceSTL was inspired by the aldermanic president in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in 2014.
“I thought the #Plant4Peace project would be a great opportunity to support our St. Louis transgender community and those we have lost with a memorial or reflection park,” said Braxton. “So I contacted Reed’s office about my wild idea just to see if it was even possible.”
It turns out, it was — and after a brief search, the property now sits on a patch of land within the city’s burgeoning Grove LGBT neighborhood.
“When I saw Leon’s message, I knew the idea was revolutionary,” explained Jarek Steele, MTUG point person for the memorial garden and co-owner of Left Bank Books.”