Transgender Day Of Remembrance Honored with National, International Events
Now, More Than Ever: Event Honors Twenty-Four Victims since 2001 Memorial
In a year marked with two dozen reported anti-transgender murders, members of the transgendered community will be holding events on November 20th to honor those lost.
"Too often people want to make our dead into forgotten people," said event founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith, "Now, more than ever, we need to stand together and say that taking life from anyone is not acceptable. Now, more than ever, we must remember, and let those memories spur us to more education and more action to safeguard the diverse character of our communities."
The event is designed to draw those from across the community to come out and say that each and every human is valuable and honored, that no one should ever be so marginalized that their death doesn't matter. From candlelight vigils to performance events and art installations, each city finds a unique way to make the lives of those murdered visible.
A total of 19 states and the District of Columbia will have Transgender Day of Remembrance events, and four countries -- the United States, Canada, Chile and Spain -- will have them within their borders. In addition, several prominent transgender websites will also be blacking out their main pages on November 20th, as a show of solidarity with the cause.
Events this year include a candlelight march down Market Street in San Francisco, California, a rally in Washington D.C., the dedication of a permanent memorial space in West Hollywood, California, an on-campus event at Ohio State University, and a memorial service in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.
The Transgender Day Of Remembrance began in San Francisco in 1999 as a response to the murder of Rita Hester, a transgendered woman who was stabbed to death in her apartment. A murder that, like most transgender killings, remains unsolved.
Through the work of the Remembering Our Dead project which spawned the Transgender Day of Remembrance, it was discovered that an average of one person is reported dead due to anti-transgender violence every month. In 2002 this figure has doubled, with 24 cases since last year's event. Organizers point to better reporting, rather than an increase in crime, as a primary reason for this jump.
"Some might think that the rise in numbers points to an increase in deaths this year," Smith said, "While I think there may be some weight in that, I personally feel this points more to aa heightened sensitivity to these cases in the media and amongst our community. The sad thing is that it could well mean that these cases have always happened in numbers like what we are finding now -- and that there is a chance, perhaps a good one, that there are even more still out there we are missing."
Although not every person represented during the Transgender Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgendered--that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant--each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgendered people.
Information on Transgender Day Of Remembrance events around the US is available online at http://www.gender.org/remember/day.