Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual tradition among the transgender community and its allies to honor the memory of transgender lives lost from anti-trans violence.
On November 20, LGBTQ organizations hold vigils for recent murder victims, which usually include reading names of those who were killed that year, sharing stories of hardship, and showing each other support.
The tradition started in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender advocate, who was honoring the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman stabbed to death in 1998. Community members participated in her vigil beginning the yearly tradition.
I first learned about Transgender Day of Remembrance a few years ago when I was part of the LGBT club at Mesa Community College. We held a vigil on campus with a guest speaker who read the names of those killed due to anti-trans violence. The vigil lasted longer than I expected, as I underestimated the amount of deaths that had occured that year. There was a binder full of names to be read, pictures, dates, and cause of death for each victim.
After hearing the list of victims and the gruesome causes of death, I realized the importance of TDOR and how awareness and empathy is key to stopping the deadly violence many transgender people face.
Within the last year, from October 1, 2017 to September 30, there has been 368 reported murders of transgender and gender-diverse people and over 2,000 murders were reported in the last decade.
2018 is reported as one of the highest cases of transgender murders, compared to the past few years. Recent anti-trans campaigns by the Trump administration, as well as the newly appointed anti-LGBT Brazilian president, has only increased the fear of violence throughout the transgender community.
Despite this year’s increased death toll of transgender individuals, I have witnessed powerful strength and encouragement within the LGBTQ community and its allies.
I hope this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance will remind transgender individuals they are not alone and supporting each other by building strong communities, there is hope for a violent-free future.
Transgender Day or Remembrance is not only a day for mourning victims of hate-crimes, but it is also A day where an undeterred group of people come together to encourage one-another in the face of adversity.