Transgender Day of Remembrance

By LGBT+ Advancing Archives
Cover image for  article: Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2021 is this year's annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is the day we take time to speak the names, see the photos, and give thought to every transgender person whose life has been taken this year and to all who mourn those taken in prior years. This includes every trans identified person lost to violence, oppression and stigma. You may wish to internet search for local events or you may wish to tune into virtual events. 2021 has been the deadliest year on record so far and we know that Black transgender women are at the highest risk for harm and murder.

"Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people -- sometimes in the most brutal ways possible -- it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice."
- Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith

PFLAG points out, "Sadly, 2021 has already seen at least 45 transgender or gender non-conforming people die by violent means including, most recently, a beloved member of the PFLAG Tampa family. We say "at least," because often these stories go unreported or misreported. As in previous years, the majority of lives taken were those of Black and Latina transgender women. We would be remiss not to also mention the many trans and gender-nonconforming people we have lost to complications from COVID-19."

Why Does this Matter?

Currently, there are many bills being brought up in states across America that are intended to harm or hinder transgender people from accessing equal opportunities as non-transgender (cisgender) people. (You can check out the specifics via this link.) As a result, society continues to perpetuate the message that transgender people are lesser than other people, which allows for the continuation of stigma and discrimination. This often leads to violence both internally and externally. We see this in our society as the rates of self-harm, suicide, assaults and murders of transgender people continue to skyrocket. By acknowledging those lost or taken, individuals and groups can indicate support and safety for the transgender community. When enough people and enough companies do this collectively, solidarity is shown, and the rates of harm and death begin to decrease.

How Is the Media Responding?

The media response varies based on where you are. Some cities such as New York, San Francisco and Miami are holding live events. There are also events being hosted online so that attendees can participate virtually. One of the most RSVP'd events is being hosted by TLC Network star of the television show "I Am Jazz" Jazz Jennings, along with other transgender activists and leaders. You may also see social media accounts for national and international companies post or tweet their support for transgender people on this day or during the days surrounding this day, including those who may use transgender celebrities, the pink/blue/white transgender flag, or prior Pride advertisements.

What Can I Do?

You may decide to honor the day in a variety of ways. You may also find yourself overwhelmed or feeling uncertain of how to acknowledge this day. Don't get discouraged, rely on some expert organizations instead:

  • Workplace advocates Out & Equal offer a guide found here.
  • GLAAD encourages, "Participate in Transgender Day of Remembrance by attending and/or organizing a vigil on November 20 to honor all those transgender people whose lives were lost to anti-transgender violence that year and learning about the violence affecting the transgender community. Vigils are typically hosted by local transgender advocates or LGBTQ organizations, and held at community centers, parks, places of worship and other venues. The vigil often involves reading a list of the names of those lost that year." GLAAD's resources (including media guides) can be found here.
  • Pride.com encourages everyone to use their social media to help! "Search the web for articles like these and share them on social media! Encourage your family and friends to read them and share them as well. So often, trans stories go unheard. A big part of what can make this world safe for trans people is awareness and visibility, and you can help play a role!"

Your Take-Away

In a society with so many pending bills against transgender people, at a time when there have been more murders and assaults of transgender people than in any prior year, doing anything is better than doing nothing. If your company will allow, even sending an email with the link to this article will give your colleagues notification that their workplace is safe for all people. If your company refuses, keep working on them over time. In the meantime, use your personal social media to show support for the transgender community. Post, share, and positively acknowledge companies' work and words that are supportive. Use your voice to save lives.

*If you are feeling unsafe as you hear/see the names and faces of transgender people lost/taken this year, please seek immediate mental health help. If you want to support those who may be struggling, you are encouraged to use your social media accounts to provide the following to your audience:

· Trevor Project Lifeline: (800) 788-7386.
· Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860.
· SAGE National LGBT Elder Hotline: (877) 360-LGBT (5428)
· National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for LGBTQ+ Community: (800) 273-8255

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