Every year on November 20 we come together as a community in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) — a day to remember the transgender and gender non-conforming lives lost to senseless hate violence throughout the year.
Since 1999, we’ve gathered for such commemorations. The first, headed up by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith, was held in 1999 to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. That vigil soon grew and yielded an annual tradition of honoring all the transgender folks we lose to violence.
Let’s be frank: Days like this shouldn’t exist, full stop. We shouldn’t have to gather annually to commemorate such profound, undeserving loss, but our world is suffering from an epidemic of hateful violence perpetrated against the trans community. Given that, it’s critical we take a moment to pay our respects and remember those we’ve lost.
In 2022 so far, at least 32 transgender people have been fatally shot or killed by other violent means, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Just last year, we saw the deadliest year on record for trans, and non-binary people, with at least 45 deaths reported.
The numbers are staggering, but it’s about more than statistics; it’s about humanity. Every single person we’ve lost had a life, dreams, aspirations, and plans for the future. Instead, their lives were cut all too tragically short.
Those who live at the intersection of multiple identities are even more at risk. A majority of those we lost — this year and in years prior — have transgender women, particularly Black and Brown trans women. When will enough be enough?
This year’s remembrance also comes as trans folks face even more issues outside of the threats of violence.
- In June, the US Supreme Court threw away decades of legal precedent protecting access to abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade, opening up a patchwork of differing protections through the states.
- State legislatures coast to coast have used their sessions to target healthcare access, trans youth, sports, LGBTQ education, and more. Several states successfully signed some of these into law.
- Continued health crises like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and monkeypox, which had an outsized impact on the LGBTQ+ community, created new challenges physically, emotionally, and financially.
- Undeserved attacks and rampantly spreading misinformation targeting trans folks — both of which can falsely impact the public’s thoughts and perceptions about transgender identity.
So, this year, let’s challenge ourselves to do more than remember the ones we’ve lost. Let’s take action to address this violence head-on and uproot the deep transphobia, misogyny, and racism at the center of these tragedies. It will take all of us to make an impact, but this work is as necessary as it is life-saving. Here are a few ways you can get involved.
- Attend a TDOR vigil in your area, or consider organizing one of your own
- Volunteer at a local DC-based LGBTQ non-profit or service organization
- Educate yourself more in-depth on the issues facing transgender folks
- Donate, if you are able, to causes and funds that support transgender individuals
- Honor the memory of those lost by learning more about their lives and legacies
For more information on Transgender Day of Remembrance, please visit sexualbeing.org.