Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is held annually on November 20, is a day to remember those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community.
Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts. Since its inception, TDoR has been held annually on November 20, and it has slowly evolved from the web-based project started by Smith into an international day of action. It remembers the names of each known victim of gender based violence from across the world.
The world can be a difficult place in which to live for those who don’t fit into the accepted societal construct around gender, whether people identify as trans, in some way, including non-binary, or simply dress, appear, or act, in a way that contravenes accepted gender-based norms. As we evolve as a species, it is becoming apparent that both biologically and psychologically, we are more diverse and complex than suspected, and that many people have suffered difficult lives trying to adhere to a societal role that didn’t fit them, was damaging to them, or intolerable.
Sadly, reactions to this difference can be volatile, and violent. We know that the great majority of the people killed each year are women of colour, and that their killers will be predominantly male.
Many people consider gender to be inherent, and binary, a destiny predetermined by biology and an inalienable constant. The unknown is often feared, and fear is often expressed as violence. Around the world, trans people are killed every day, by dismemberment, stoning, fire, gun, knife, club, strangling, beating, rape, suffocation, tortured and left to die… A child was killed in his cot, still not able to talk, because his behaviour was too feminine for his father who needed him to ‘man up.’ A woman was captured, taken to waste land, tortured, raped, her hamstrings cut, and left bleeding to death, unable to get to help. Another woman was set on fire and died. These are just a few examples of the brutal deaths people are subjected to each year.
Where there are good civil rights movements, there is generally better crime reporting, and global archives build a partial picture of those who’ve been killed. These are the people who are remembered, witnessed, their lives celebrated, even while their deaths are mourned annually.
In Brighton, this year’s event is at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church, Dorset Gardens, Brighton, BN2 1RL, November 20th, from 2.00pm until 4pm.
There will be speakers, including the Major, and trans people from the local community. The Rainbow Chorus will be performing, LGBT Switchboard will be providing crisis support, and Lunch Positive will be catering the event.
As is tradition, the names of those lost that year, will be on small cards, and they will be placed on the ‘wall’ as memorial and witness that they were here, and their lives taken from them.
We will remember them, we have to, we want to, we will. Remembrance is an act of love. They are our family, our friends, our allies, our dead. Transgender Day of Remembrance allows us all – trans people and allies, activists and allies – to stand shoulder to shoulder and hold the memory of our lost & murdered in a space of dignity and respect.
Hope is as cheap as despair and in these difficult times we choose the path of hope, for we have no choice but to be ourselves.
Our task is to move from sympathy to reflexivity, from witnessing to action. It is not enough to simply honour the memory of the dead—we must transform the practices of the living.
Written by Trans Alliance Brighton