The Transgender Day of Remembrance

A Memorial for Those Lost to Anti-Transgender Violence

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Each year on November 20, people come together to recognize the Transgender Day of Remembrance, also known as TDoR. The Transgender Day of Remembrance honors the memory of the many transgender people who are lost every year to anti-transgender violence.

Transgender pride flag symbol on hand

 nito100 / iStock / Getty Images

Transgender individuals are those whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex at birth. Cisgender individuals have a gender identity that is the same as their assigned sex at birth.

TDoR was originally started by transgender activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1999 to honor the memory of Rita Hester. Rita Hester, an African American transgender woman, was murdered in 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts. More than twenty years later, her murder still has not been solved, and the problem of anti-transgender violence remains a serious one.

In the 365 days between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018, there were 369 murders of transgender and gender diverse people reported around the globe. Twenty eight of those murders were in the United States. The only countries where more gender diverse individuals were killed were Brazil and Mexico. The names of those lost every year are collected on the Transgender Day of Remembrance website.


Transgender and other gender diverse populations are at enormous risk of experiencing interpersonal violence. This risk is even higher for transgender women, particularly transgender women of color than for the transgender population at large. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey is one of the largest surveys of gender diversity that has ever been performed, and it sheds some light on just how many people have been affected by this violence.

The survey is based on responses from over 27,000 gender diverse adults from all over the United States and its territories, and it uncovered disturbing levels of stigma, harassment, and violence. For instance, the study unveils that 10% of gender diverse individuals had experienced violence at the hand of a family member, and 30% of respondents who ever held a job had been fired for their gender identity or expression.

Nearly half (47%) of all respondents had been sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. In particular, respondents who were openly transgender while in school experienced a variety of mistreatment.

Respondents also answered questions about their experiences with violence in the year before the study was conducted. Many reported similar findings of verbal, sexual, and physical assault, as well as being denied access to basic facilities:

  • 46% reported verbal harassment
  • 9% reported physical attacks
  • 9% had been denied access to a bathroom

Throughout the survey, rates of reported violence were consistently higher for transgender and gender diverse people of color.


According to the Movement Advancement Project, an independent think tank, only 22 states plus 2 U.S. territories and the District of Columbia have hate crime laws that cover gender identity in the United States. The other 28 states and three U.S. territories do not recognize anti-transgender violence as a hate crime.

Both sexual orientation and gender identity have been covered by federal hate crime law since the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 went into effect, but this law only covers crimes that occur under federal jurisdiction.

There is no clear data about the effects of including gender identity in hate crime legislation on anti-transgender violence. However, including sexual orientation in legislation has been shown to reduce violence against sexual minority individuals. As such, it is reasonable to hypothesize that there would be a similar reduction in anti-transgender violence where gender identity is also a protected category.

Making a Difference

Want to help make a change? There are plenty of ways that you can make the world a little safer for gender diverse individuals in your community. Things to keep in mind include:

  • Don't confuse genitals with gender. Some men have vaginas. Some women have penises. Some people have neither. A person's genitals do not say anything about who they are. Regardless of someone's genitalia, it usually has no effect on your life.
  • Respect people's gender identities. Use the names and pronouns people use for themselves. If you make a mistake, apologize. If you hear someone else make a mistake, offer the correct information. If you are not sure what a person prefers, use gender-neutral pronouns. You would not necessarily know what they prefer, and it is always better not to assume. (They is a gender-neutral pronoun in that sentence.)
  • Don't ask invasive questions. Do not pry into a person's gender journey or their transition. Unless you are a person's doctor or healthcare professional, their body is none of your business.
  • Intervene if you see harassment. If you see a transgender or gender diverse person being attacked, or you hear people making jokes at their expense, it is important to stand up and speak out.
  • Make a point of asking everyone their pronouns. If you're going to start asking people their pronouns, make sure you're not only asking those people you think might be transgender. Even better, introduce yourself with your pronouns. This is an invitation to the person you're speaking with to do the same, but it also doesn't put them on the spot.
  • Don't divide spaces, activities, or responsibilities by gender. Unless there is an outstanding reason why gender is relevant, it is important to keep activities inclusive, regardless of gender.

A Word From Verywell

The Transgender Day of Remembrance gives everyone a day each year when they are encouraged to think about those lost to anti-transgender violence. On TDoR, people are asked to recognize the extent to which transgender people are put at risk by society, both in the United States and around the world.

However, thinking about the rights of transgender Americans should not be limited to one day a year. It is important to be aware of the ways in which discrimination and stigma negatively affect the health of our community. Together, we can work towards a future where there are no new deaths to mourn on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. GLAAD. Transgender Day of Remembrance Nov 20.

  2. Trans Respect Versus Transphobia Worldwide. Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) 2018 press release.

  3. James SE, Herman JL, Rankin S, Keisling M, Mottet M, Anafi M. The report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. National Center for Transgender Equality.

  4. Movement Advancement Project. Hate crime laws.

  5. U.S. Department of Justice. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

By Elizabeth Boskey, PhD
Elizabeth Boskey, PhD, MPH, CHES, is a social worker, adjunct lecturer, and expert writer in the field of sexually transmitted diseases.