Today will mark the 20th anniversary of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) events here in the United States and around the world.
They got their start in the wake of the November 28, 1998 murder of Rita Hester in Boston,who was grossly disrespected by the gay and straight media in that city, and in the wake of her being the fourth trans person in five years murdered in the city.
The person who killed Rita Hester still hasn’t been brought to justice to this day.
The TDORs started in 1999 as protest events in Boston and San Francisco organized by journalist Gwen Smith. They were also organized to help us remember the folks we’d already lost to anti-trans violence in the early 90’s.
The TDOR in less than a decade spread around the world and became events in which trans communities across the planet and our allies memorialized the trans people senselessly lost to anti-trans violence.
As the TDOR grew in importance to our trans community, events such as Trans Awareness Week were added in some communities in order to educate the cis population inside and outside the SGL community about our lives. it also allowed us to hold events that expanded the ways we talked about the trans community and the issues that affect us beyond just the needed and necessary memorial services.
Trans Awareness Week in San Francisco has grown to an entire month of activities that lead up to the November 20 TDOR memorial day.
We have now been holding TDOR events for 20 years. The murders are now focused exclusively on trans women of color, and disproportionately on Black trans women in the US.
In Latin America and Brazil, the murder rate is also unacceptably high, and the same is the case in Asia and Eastern Europe.
Trans people are undeniably a part of the diverse mosaic of human life. You can find us on six inhabited continents on Planet Earth and we aren’t going away or back into the closet.
It’s past time that people accept the fact we exist, and leave us alone so that we can survive, thrive, and be the best people that we can be.
We would love for these TDOR events to become obsolete so we don’t have to gather every November 20 to observe them. But as long as transphobic hate exists and is being stirred up by right wing politicians, conservative organizations, TERF’s and fundamentalist religions, it looks like for the next few years we’ll be gathering at venues around to world to remember the people we have lost.