A Day to Honor Trans Lives

For many people, November 20th exists as just another cold, rainy day.

For trans people, it is a day to mourn, remember and honor the many lives that have been stolen at the hands of transphobic violence. 

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) began in 1999, and was started by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in honor and memory of Rita Hester, a Black trans woman who was brutally murdered in her apartment in Allston, Massachusetts. It is a day that holds many purposes, including raising awareness about issues that impact the trans community and advocacy, but most importantly – it is a day that holds space for the mourning and heavy weight that comes with the violent loss of a trans life. 

Revolution exists within the body of each and every trans person. In a world that is cis and binary, being trans is an act of ongoing resistance. When a trans person is killed, it is felt amongst trans people everywhere. TDOR is a day to focus solely on these lives that have been lost, and to mourn and remember them so that we can fight harder for those who are still here. 

Support for the trans community can’t stop at ally-ship – it must continue moving towards a fight for protection, justice, and liberation for all trans lives.  Societal progress towards equity for trans people looks like increased access to safe housing, affirming healthcare, and legal aid. However, true liberation will not be achieved without dismantling the gender binary that shapes the world we live in. Without pulling out the roots of the issue, the plant will continue to grow. 

Honoring the trans lives that have been lost must not end when Trans Day of Remembrance does. True change will only come when cis people give up space to amplify trans voices, and when trans people are protected and honored at all costs. The fight for trans liberation is far from over, but it’s a fight that will be won one day. Trans people hold a special kind of power, but that power can only go so far without solidarity and action and from cis people. People standing together brings strength and resilience that will pave the way towards liberation. With continuous community care, strength and support, perhaps one day hours will not be needed to read the list of victims’ names at the vigil each November 20th.

For further educational resources and to find places where you can donate, please visit https://www.glaad.org/tdor.

an illustration of two Black trans femmes against a green background has white writing that reads, "Remember trans power, fight for trans lives."
Art by Micah Bazant