Each year, November 20th marks a day of remembrance for those who have lost their lives in acts of anti-transgender violence. Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) began in 1999 as a vigil organized by advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. Since this vigil, TDOR has continued as an internationally important day of commemoration for those who have been and continue to be the victims of anti-transgender violence and bigotry.
It is a solemn fact that transgender individuals in the United States face elevated risks of violence compared to cisgender Americans. In the National Transgender Discrimination Survey of 2015, nearly one in ten survey respondents (9%) reported that they were physically attacked in the past year because of being transgender[i]. In addition, nearly half of respondents (46%) reported that they were verbally harassed because of being transgender[ii]. According to the Transgender Day of Remembrance website, 23 Americans lost their lives to transgender hate crimes in 2018[iii]. The threats of harassment and violence are daily realities for transgender individuals.
In conjunction with a challenging societal climate, transgender people also have to endure the political whims of federal, state, and local governments. Whether it is the never-ending ping pong game of which bathroom to use, disqualification for military service, or even a possible erasure of transgender status from federal agencies, transgender individuals carry the burden of governments who are not working for them. It is essential, now more than ever, that transgender voices be amplified.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day for mourning, but it is also a day of celebration for transgender individuals who bravely claim who they are in spite of the violence, hatred, and discrimination they may endure. As TDOR continues to grow, so do the allies of the transgender community. We remain hopeful that our transgender friends and family members will be able to walk freely in who they are without facing ridicule, hatred, or violence.
Did you miss yesterday’s TDOR candlelight vigil hosted by the Washington County GSA? You can still attend the one hosted by TransPride and Persad Center tonight at 6:00 PM at Persad – 5301 Butler St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201.
Hello! My name is Kara Hoffman and I am a graduate intern at Three Rivers Community Foundation. I am currently studying at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Social Work with a Community, Organization, and Social Action (COSA) concentration. I have a passion for serving victims of discrimination, oppression, and injustice in any form. I am also a Pittsburgh native and a proud lover of bridges, pierogi, and Steelers football. I enjoy engaging with the progressive social change community!
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