November 20th marks Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) each year. Meant to memorialize the lives of the hundreds of individuals who’ve been killed because of hate and prejudice-based violence, the day is among the few occasions that honor trans lives and identities.
When Did the Transgender Day of Remembrance Come About?
In 1999, transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith organized a candle vigil for Rita Hester, a trans woman who had been murdered the previous year. Rita’s death gave birth to a transgender movement. The vigil held in her memory also commemorated the lives of all the other transgender individuals who had been a victim of violence and discrimination. This became an annual tradition, with November 20th, 1999, marking the first-ever Transgender Day of Remembrance.
What Is Transgender Day of Remembrance So Important?
The Transgender Day of Remembrance creates public awareness regarding the previous and ongoing hate crimes against members of the trans community. For years, trans folks have had to face persecution, discrimination, and various forms of abuse solely because of their gender identity. They’ve been the subject of mockery, hatred, and prejudices and have had to suffer many losses along the way. In fact, their deaths have gone largely undocumented as well, with the lists available on several online platforms only containing names of victims whose deaths were reported at the time.
Transgender Day of Remembrance both mourns and honors the lives of these individuals. Through uniting the trans community and allies, it helps ensure that the struggles of those who lost their lives are not forgotten.
While the day is primarily targeted at memorializing loss, it also celebrates the lives of those still with us. Celebrations are held to express love, garner strength, display resilience, and provide support within and to the trans community.
Transgender Day of Remembrance also attempts to challenge the derogatory views, preconceived notions, and stereotypes associated with transgender people. It is a chance for allies to step forward and play their part in providing support and paying respect to the trans community in several ways. The holiday emphasizes on persistent and ongoing struggles faced by trans folks and encourages allies to share love and support.
How Is Transgender Day of Remembrance Observed?
While there is no definitive way of commemorating Transgender Day of Remembrance, the day is typically observed through the following activities:
- Candle vigils
- Name reading
- Discussion forums, workshops, and conferences
- Fundraising events
- Performance art (spoken word, poetry slam, drag performances, etc.)
- Visual art (paintings, photography, body outline chalking, etc.)
- Movie & documentary screenings
Want to know about the events happening on this Transgender Day of Remembrance? Our LGBTQ friendly business directory can help you access the many LGBTQ resources on the topic. Trans Central Station also has an e-commerce store where we offer exciting new merchandise for our trans brothers and sisters online.
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