Trans Day of Remembrance

[…] for all trans* people who are subjected to verbal and physical harassment and emotional and physical violence: We matter!

For all trans* people who are continually being misnamed and referred to by inappropriate pronouns just because some cisgender people refuse to recognize their identities or fail to care enough to work on getting it right.

For my trans* friend who was “unwelcomed” by her pastor and was left without a faith community to love and support her.

For all trans* people who plan their days around where they can access safe restrooms and are harassed and denied entry to a restroom appropriate to their gender identity when they simply have to pee, or who suffer kidney infections because they continually have to hold it.

(read more), Huffington Post, Gay Voices: We Matter! 

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) occurs on the 20th of November of each year. In 1998, Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded the day to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts. The day is dedicated as a memorial to trans*folks that have been killed as a result of hatred, fear, and unacceptance of transgender individuals and communities. Everyday of their lives, trans*folks and gender nonconforming individuals are subject to increased hatred and discrimination. TDoR works to honor those who have parted with us and those who have endured.

Fear and loathing of trans* individuals comes from a place of ignorance and misunderstanding, and can spark violence in homes, jobs, churches, and schools. And while TDoR was intended as a day to remember those who have been killed, it is also a day to celebrate those who are still alive.

Our volunteer Bryan Makishi reflects on community efforts to keep Gwen Araujo alive in our hearts:

“Gwen Araujo was an American teenage transwoman living in Newark, California.  On the night someone took a shovel and bludgeoned her, it was reported Gwen pleaded for her life —  “please, I have a family.”

Araujo_AEleven years ago I saw determined young people march in remembrance of Gwen. I wonder how Gwen Araujo’s story impacted their lives – they must have felt the same pain, anger, and repulsion as I did when I first heard the news. Gwen’s story is only one of many that has touched our lives. There are so many stories that reveal how violently destructive our society can be. 

For me, everyday is Trans Day of Remembrance because I believe the community needs to continue fighting for justice and equality for transgender people everyday. The brutality and hate is just not right and is far from over. I won’t forget Gwen.

Recently, A.B.1266 was passed in California, which prohibits public schools from discriminating on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. While this is a great victory, there has also been a large amount of conservative backlash to repeal the law. There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that trans*individuals are guaranteed the ability to live as their authentic selves, but for today, and for all days, we celebrate the lives of those who have dared to do so.

– Sammie Wills