The Transgender Memorial Garden of St. Louis is the project of the Metro Trans Umbrella Group of St. Louis. It is the second of its kind in the world (the first is in Manchester, England) and the first in the United States.
Redbud trees form a line along the edge of the garden facing Vandeventer. Hackberry trees are planted in a grid throughout the lot. Native Missouri wildflowers and plants make up the butterfly garden at the tip.
On October 18, 2015, a group of around 60 members of the trans community and our allies transformed a vacant lot on the corner of Vandeventer and Hunt into a beautiful garden to honor the lives of transgender people that have been lost to violence and to celebrate the lives we spend together.
The idea began earlier that year when local activist, Leon Braxton learned of Plant for Peace STL, an organization that donates trees to show solidarity and comradery among neighbors. Leon’s vision was to plant a garden to bring attention to the violence against the trans community. Thirty Four trees were donated and the Metro Trans Umbrella Group collected donations for the purchase of plants from Missouri Wildflower Nursery for a butterfly garden.
Monte Abbott, a volunteer master gardener, designed the garden with a planting of Hackberry Trees and Redbud Trees with a winding path through the garden ending in a community circle. A garden was planted with native Missouri plants designed to attract bees and butterflies to the garden. The path and community circle is a reference to a peaceful journey with an uncertain but peaceful destination. Butterflies are a symbol of transformation in the Trans community.
Jarek Steele, Garden Director
Garden Director Jarek Steele crafted the entrance sign out of cedar inscribed with the quote from Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos – “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”Later, benches were donated by Boom! Magazine and local LGBT counselor Cindy Betz.