According to Steele, the site of the future memorial is partially owned by the city, and also by a local business. A corner butterfly garden was previously planted there by Mission St. Louis two years ago, but the plot hasn’t been maintained in some time.
“In what I believe is a breathtaking vote of confidence and support, the city of St. Louis, Mission St. Louis and the local business were completely on board with our idea,” said Steele. “Every conversation I’ve had has been wonderfully supportive.”
The memorial, with the help of a volunteer master gardener, will be home to several native species of plants that will attract butterflies – an important symbol to the transgender community. MTUG will raise money to pay for additional plants to fill in the spaces. The budget for that is approximately $250-$300.TransGarden3
Additionally, 24 native trees will be planted with a curved path situated among them. The space will be designed as a place of peaceful reflection, but could also serve as a rallying point, a place for ceremonies – or even group activities such as yoga.
Left Bank Books will donate a sign for the entrance, and possibly one bench. #Boom Magazine has also pledged one bench. The yearly maintenance after that will be MTUG’s responsibility, and according to the group, their honor.
Worldwide, one transgender person is murdered every three days. Trans* Day of Remembrance is an annual call to reflect and honor these lives. The garden, built by transgender St. Louisans and their allies, is designed to be a place for quiet reflection, ceremonies and social gatherings.
“St. Louis seeds so many cultural innovations from literature to music to social change. It’s fitting that this community helps lead the way in the fight for transgender rights,” said Steele.
MTUG was formed in 2013 to bring together the community of trans*, gender queer, androgynous, intersex and allies in the St. Louis metro area through community, visibility, advocacy and education.
“I have a vision for radical self-care,” added Sayer Johnson, Executive Director of MTUG. “Our community must use our own valuable resources to lift up and honor the lives of our fellow humans.”
Volunteers are needed to clean and prepare the space in advance of the tree planting on Oct. 18. Volunteers are also needed on planting day to transport and place the trees and other bushes and foliage.
For information about volunteering or donating to the garden, email at [email protected] or call 314-270-2155.
A transgender memorial garden was dedicated in 2013 in Manchester, England.