What is Transgender Day of Remembrance
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was first observed in 1999; organized by Gwendolyn Ann Smith to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester. This event has evolved from a web-based project to an international day of action. This event, which commemorates and memorializes the transgender individuals who have died as a direct result of violence against trans individuals, has grown into an international call to action from trans rights groups and allies. This day is spent honoring those lost to trans violence, making it truly our best opportunity to discuss how devastating this loss is. Trans Day of Remembrance is similar to a funeral or wake; although there is an effort to shine light on the ways things are changing and that people can fight back, the core message is about space for grief and mourning.
The annual event, which celebrates the lives of trans individuals lost, falls on November 20th each year and seeks to combat trans violence, stigma, and erasure, and has for over 2 decades in a variety of different ways. Activist groups such as Trans Lives Matter, Human Rights Campaign, and Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and many others offer education, history, and ways to get involved in ground level activism through their websites. The most important function of Trans Day of Remembrance is to restore dignity; the direct opposite of a hate crime.
How to Honor Trans Day of Remembrance
Over the decades of commemorating Trans Day of Remembrance, a number of traditions have popped up. Seattle TDOR will be honoring the day for the third year in a row, with a virtual Zoom event .
It is very common to have a candlelight vigil and a reading of the U.S. names. Some events have included art shows, fundraisers, and a call to social justice. For many, simply knowing the statistics, which show that murders occur most among trans women of color and that all trans people are at risk, can spur action all year.
This is a space where the trans community is especially isolated, and having allies is necessary. It is a space for communities to connect and experience together.