Transgender Awareness Week culminates with the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), which “memorializes trans individuals who have died because of anti-transgender discrimination and victimization.” TDOR is observed worldwide on November 20, with local observances being held then and in the days before.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1988 after the brutal murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts. Sadly, we continue to lose transgender brothers and sisters to acts of hate and violence. The website for the International Transgender Day of Remembrance memorializes people who died because of anti-transgender violence every year. The list is much too long.
According to the 2011 Hate Violence Report [PDF], anti-LGBT murders increased 11% from 2010 to 2011—from 27 to 30 murders. 40% of those murdered were transgender women. Individuals who are transgender people of color were 28% likelier to experience violence than those who aren’t. The impact of this violence is far-reaching: a survey of transgender people living in Virginia suggests that experiencing non-fatal physical or sexual violence contributes to trans individuals suicidal thinking and substance abuse.
As we memorialize those we’ve lost to anti-trans violence, we must also continue drawing attention to the issue and reach out to those who have experienced violence. In the Boston-area, Fenway’s Violence Recovery program offers counseling, advocacy, and support to people who have experienced bias-motivated violence, sexual assault, police intimidation, and more. The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MPTC) also has a list of resources for people who have experienced anti-trans discrimination or violence. Fenway and MTPC also collaborated with other organizations on this guide to preventing suicide in transgender communities.
The best way we can honor those we’ve lost to bigotry is to continue working to prevent anti-trans discrimination and violence—and to continue helping those impacted by it to heal.