The Transgender Day of Remembrance

A Memorial for Those Lost to Anti-Transgender Violence

In This Article

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 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 to honor the memory of Rita Hester. Rita Hester, an African American transgender woman, was murdered in Allston Massachusetts on November 28, 1998. 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. 28 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.

Statistics

Transgender and other gender diverse people 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 National Transgender Discrimination 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 percent of gender diverse individuals had experienced violence at the hand of a family member, and one out of every six respondents who ever held a job had been fired for their gender identity or expression.

Nearly half (47 percent) 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.
  • 10% reported physical attacks.
  • 10% reported sexual violence.
  • 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.

Legislation

According to the Movement Advancement Project, an independent think tank, only 17 states plus the District of Columbia have hate crimes laws that cover gender identity in the United States. The other 33 states 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 went into effect in 2010, 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 this community. Together, we can work towards a future where there are no new deaths to mourn on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

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Article Sources

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