Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance was established in 1998 to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of transphobia.

Why is it important?

The Transgender Day of Remembrance, also known as the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, has been observed annually on November 20 as a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.

The day was founded to draw attention to the continued violence endured by transgender community.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is an opportunity for communities to come together and remember transgender people, gender-variant individuals, and those perceived to be transgender who have been murdered because of hate.

Significance

Rita Hester

Transgender Day of Remembrance is held in November to honor Rita Hester, a transgender African American woman whose murder on November 28, 1998, in Allston, Massachusetts, launched the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco vigil the following year, in which about 250 people participated. The community struggle to see Rita's life and identity covered respectfully by local papers, including the Boston Herald.

The scope

TDoR provides a forum for transgender communities and allies to raise awareness of the threat of violence faced by gender variant people and the persistence of prejudice felt by the transgender community. Communities organize events and activities including town hall style "teach-ins," photography and poetry exhibits and candlelit vigils. These activities make anti-transgender violence visible to stakeholders like police, the media and elected officials.

source: Human Rights Campaign (hcr.org)

The memorial

Typically, a TDoR memorial includes a reading of the names of those who lost their lives from November 20 of the former year to November 20 of the current year, and may include other actions, such as candlelight vigils, dedicated church services, marches, art shows, food drives and film screenings.

Recognition by the U.S.

In 2020, US president-elect Joe Biden recognized the Transgender Day of Remembrance and said the transphobic violence experienced by trans women is intolerable.

In 2021, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris issued a statement saying, "At least 46 transgender Americans were killed by acts of fatal violence to date this year".

His office also issued a report outlining "How the Biden-Harris Administration Is Advancing Safety, Opportunity, and Inclusion for Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals." Moreover, Biden called on the Senate to pass the Equality Act, a bill that seeks to incorporate protections against LGBT discrimination into the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Antony J. Blinken, United States Secretary of State, also issued a statement mourning the loss of trans lives in 2021.As the chief American diplomat, he stated, "Promoting and protecting the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons is a foreign policy priority of this Administration."

The Equality Act

The Equality Act is a bill in the United States Congress, that, if passed, would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (including titles II, III, IV, VI, VII, and IX) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, federally funded programs, credit, and jury service.

The Supreme Court's June 2020 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia protects gay and transgender people in matters of employment, but not in other respects. The bill would also expand existing civil rights protections for people of color by prohibiting discrimination in more public accommodations, such as exhibitions, goods and services, and transportation.

The Equality Act broadly defines sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity, adding "pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes". The bill also defines this to include the intersex community. The intended purpose of the act is to legally protect individuals from discrimination based on such.

Purpose of the Equality Act

As of 2020, 29 states had not outlawed anti-LGBT discrimination, with members of the LGBT community being given little protection at a national level and two-thirds of LGBT Americans in the United States reported facing or having experienced discrimination in their personal lives.

The Equality Act seeks to legally protect individuals from such discrimination, applying existing state anti-LGBT discrimination laws nationwide.

Did you know?

And the Emmy goes to...

Laverne Cox, who starred in 'Orange Is the New Black,' is the first openly trans person to earn an Emmy Award nomination. Cox has been noted by her LGBT peers, and many others, for being a trailblazer for the transgender community, and has won numerous awards for her activist approach in spreading awareness.

Her impact and prominence in the media has led to a growing conversation about transgender culture, specifically transgender women, and how being transgender intersects with one's race. She is the first transgender person to be on the cover of Time magazine, be nominated for a Primetime Emmy, and have a wax work in Madame Tussauds, as well as the first transgender woman to win a Daytime Emmy as an executive producer.  In May 2016, Cox was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from The New School in New York City for her progressive work in the fight for gender equality.

The importance of Intersectionality

While TDoR is a critical event, scholars and activists committed to advancing intersectional approaches to trans politics continue to highlight the importance of seeing transphobic violence as inherently connected to race, gender, and class. This is reflected in the disproportionate instances of violence against trans women of color in general, Black and Latina transgender women in particular.

Trans activists like C. Riley Snorton, Jin Haritaworn, CeCe McDonald, Reina Gossett, Sylvia Rivera, and Dean Spade, advocate for the importance of an intersectional approach to events such as TDoR and transgender activism in general. Scholar Sarah Lamble (2008) argues that TDoR's focus on a collective mourning risks producing the white spectator as innocent of, rather than complicit in, the violence that produces the deaths of trans women of color they are mourning.

source: Wikipedia.org

"Our task is to move from sympathy to responsibility, from complicity to reflexivity, from witnessing to action. It is not enough to simply honor the memory of the dead—we must transform the practices of the living."

- Sarah Lamble (2008)

What can you do?

Support transgender rights group

Research groups in your area that support the LGBTQ+ community, and encourage others to donate as well.

March on or attend a vigil

One of the best ways to raise money and show support is to participate in a marathon or walk-a-thon that contributes to the transgender cause.

A vigil enables you and your peers to honor those who lost their lives to anti-transgender violence.