Hannah Michelle Bussa
Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day to honor those murdered due to anti-transgender violence every year. This day is recognized each year on Nov. 20, at the end of Transgender Awareness Week.
Transgender Day of Remembrance began in 1999 as a vigil to honor Rita Hester, a transgender woman killed in 1998. Gwendolyn Ann Smith began this important tradition honoring the lives lost due to this violence.
Moira Swanson spoke about the importance of this day.
“Transgender Day of Remembrance is extremely important because from my understanding, trans folx have the lowest life expectance in the world,” she said. “This is something that rarely gets brought up but is crucial to know when observing the day.”
Violence against transgender people is a growing problem. Since last year, there has been a 6% increase in reported murders. Globally, at least 350 trans and gender-diverse people were murdered in the last year. The United States accounted for at least 28 of these murders, the third most violent nation in the world for transphobic violence.
CeCelia Mayer discussed the importance of the awareness this day brings.
“Transgender Day of Remembrance is important because trans people are important,” she said. “We have to remember all people, but we forget how difficult it is to be trans. With trans people dying every day, we have to make sure to honor them and the tough fight they fought. Trans people die from being murdered, suicide and surgeries. We need to bring awareness to these numbers and really make change.”
These numbers also highlight an intersection with race. People of color make up 79% of the trans people murdered in the U.S. in the last year. Globally, 98% of those murdered were trans women or trans feminine people. Unreported cases are also likely due to missing data and misgendering by families and authorities.
These statistics and numbers are important, but there are people behind those numbers that need to be remembered.
“Through awareness for this epidemic, we can help create a safer future for everyone,” Swanson said.
The American Medical Association declared violence against the trans community an epidemic in 2019.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are not many in-person vigil events happening to observe this day. However, people can still recognize the lives of those lost at the hands of this violence from home and through social media.
To observe Transgender Day of Remembrance, people can spend time recognizing the names and stories of those lost to this violence in the past year. People can also share these names and stories on their social media.
Moishe Kafka reinforced the importance of observing this day.
“I think it’s important because it’s good to focus on those in our community,” they said. “The LBGTQIA+ community have been particularly ignored in our history.”
While awareness is important, Swanson added that it cannot stop there.
“Hopefully as access to healthcare, visibility, and acceptance increases, we can increase our life expectancy as a group of people,” Swanson said. “The future generations give me so much hope.”