Today, the 20th of November, is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). It’s an annual community event where we remember those who have been killed due to transphobic violence, a disproportionate number of whom are trans women of colour. On this day we mourn together, as a community, for the lives our society failed to protect.
The first TDoR event was organised in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, who was remembering her friend Rita Hester, a black trans woman who was murdered in November, 1998. Since then, TDoR evolved from an online project Remembering Our Dead to an annual event, and has been held on the 20th of November ever since.
Continuing this traditions, we’re running an event for Trans Day of Remembrance this evening for anyone who wants to be with our community tonight. These events are not celebratory, but neither are they miserable. We will stop to reflect and mourn friends and family who would still be here if we lived in a kinder world, and then tomorrow we will continue to repair what is broken.
There are many reasons to be afraid, to feel hopeless or lost. We’ve spent so many years fighting for our rights and our lives, working tirelessly just to convince people to recognise us as people, to believe that our lives have value, and many of us are exhausted.
Trans people are often the victims of discrimination, and this reality is even worse for multiply marginalised trans people, including those of us who are disabled, neurodivergent, people of colour, sex workers, Aboriginal, non-binary, women, or a combination of those. These violent acts may be in the form of harassment, assault, being kicked out of our homes and rejected by our families, employment discrimination, and even murder.
This discrimination can come from anyone, including those who are meant to support us- our parents, our siblings, our friends, our teachers. For many trans people, it is painfully obvious that organisations that most people can rely on, like the police force, were never truly meant to protect us. They have not failed us, because you cannot fail at something you do not try to do.
But tonight people around the world gather to affirm that our lives do have value, and are worth remembering. It is tragic that these events are necessary, but seeing how many people stand with us is a reason for hope.
As we look through the history of our community, we see progress. To be sure, this progress has been slow and hard-won, and this improvement is by no means linear, but thanks to the activists that have come before us, we are, if not safe, then at least safer than we were before.
Our history is one of struggle, but it is one of victories too. Our very existence is a testament to the work that can be done.
There are so many ways to support trans/gender diverse people. Share the resources we create when we choose to tell our stories, lobby MPs to support bills that protect our fundamental human rights, support trans authors who create stories with diverse characters, donate to organisations that advocate for trans rights, and above all else, stand with us and elevate our voices.
We hope to see many of you with us tonight, and at many events in the future.
A list of those who we mourn today can be found at http://tdor.info/. This list includes the names of the dead, and the cause of death, which is often violent.