Transgender Day of Remembrance has been recognized for the past 21 years as a day to honour trans people who have lost their lives due to transphobic violence. The first Trans Day of Remembrance was in response to the murder of Rita Hester, a Black trans woman who was killed in Boston in 1998 just days before her 35th birthday.
The past year has seen another horrifying increase in cases of trans people reported killed. In the United States, more trans people were killed in the first 7 months of 2020 alone than in the entire year of 2019. The same data isn’t available in Canada because of the government’s ongoing failure to accurately collect and categorize that information. Each of the people lost must be remembered as unique individuals who matter deeply.
Black, Latina, and Indigenous trans women face the highest rates of transphobic violence. Trans women must be protected and included in supports for women, our communities, our safety networks, and in our feminist organizing spaces. So-called “trans-exclusive feminism” is not feminism and contributes greatly to the social stigma and danger faced by trans women.
While we talk about transphobic violence, we need to also recognize that transphobia is further perpetuated through the colonial and oppressive gender binary system. Before colonization, non-binary people were often seen as powerful and gifted, and the imposition of the gender binary is meant to weaken their power and undermine pre-colonial ways of being.
Remember to give the trans folks in our lives their flowers. We should all look inwards towards how we can challenge transphobia in our educational institutions, and the work we must do to make all of our spaces safe.
Today, we remember the trans people who were killed in the past year. May they rest in peace and power.
To find a Trans Day of Remembrance ceremony to attend, see this list of virtual options. https://www.queerevents.ca/tdor#events