Transgender Day of Remembrance falls on Monday November the 20th this year, an annual observance that honours the memory of transgender people, gender-variant individuals and those perceived to be transgender who have lost their lives because of hate. The memorial day was founded by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in response to the death of her friend Rita Hester, a 34-year-old African American transgender woman, who was murdered in 1998. Rita Hester wasn’t the first person to be a victim of transphobia and violence, but her death became the catalyst to remember the hundreds of others who have been killed, or chose to take their own lives to end their suffering, before and after her. Gwendolyn Ann Smith also launched the Transgender Day of Memorial website, which lists the names of all of those who have died.
“The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people – sometimes in the most brutal ways possible – it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.“
Gwendolyn Ann Smith
Since 2008, a total of 2,609 trans* and gender-diverse people have been reported murdered in 71 countries, 8 of whom lived in the UK, and 325 of those deaths happened in the past 12 months. The number of transphobic hate crimes reported to police in the UK rose by 170% between 2011 and 2016, and huge numbers of trans* people face distressing treatment on a daily basis, with one study finding that 38% of people have experienced physical intimidation and threats, and 81% have experienced silent harassment (e.g being stared at/whispered about). A survey in the United States found that 40% of transgender people have attempted suicide at some point in their lifetime, compared to 1.1% of the non-trans population.
Transgender Day of Remembrance has been observed in over 180 cities in more than 20 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Russia, the Philippines and South Korea, yet transphobic hate crime continues to destroy lives, making this annual observance a vital part of the continued fight for equality for everybody. There are many events taking place throughout the UK, including Transgender Day of Remembrance in Manchester on Sunday 19th November, which has been organised by Sparkle – The National Transgender Charity.
You can find more information and events on Transgender Day of Remembrance using the hashtag #TDOR on Twitter.