Today we observe Transgender Day of Remembrance, which began in 1999 as a way to honor Rita Hester, a trans woman murdered inside her Boston apartment in 1998.
A vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence since Rita Hester’s death and began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Observed every November 20, the day is meant to honor the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.
The Human Rights Campaign reports that in 2020, at least 37 transgender and gender non-conforming people were victims of violent homicides — more than the HRC has recorded in any other year.
Last year, the American Medical Association categorized these losses as an “epidemic” – and it is one that has only continued to spread.
While each case is unique in its circumstances, what is clear is the epidemic disproportionately impacts Black transgender women, who comprise 66% of all victims of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people.
President-elect Joe Biden issued a statement today recognizing Transgender Day of Remembrance, which reads, in part, “2020 has been a year of tremendous suffering and loss” for the transgender community. Biden describes the rising death toll of transgender and gender-nonconforming people “intolerable.”
“Transgender rights are human rights,” affirms Biden. “To transgender and gender-nonconforming people across America and around the world: from the moment I am sworn in as president of the United States, know that my administration will see you, listen to you, and fight for not only your safety but also the dignity and justice you have been denied.”
To transgender and gender-nonconforming people across America and around the world: from the moment I am sworn in as president, know that my administration will see you, listen to you, and fight for not only your safety but also the dignity and justice you have been denied.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 20, 2020
On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, we honor the memory of the at least 37 transgender or gender-nonconforming people killed this year—the majority of whom were Black and Latinx transgender women.
Today and every day we must recommit to ending this epidemic. #TDOR
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 20, 2020
We must end the epidemic of violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people, including the extreme vulnerability of Black and brown trans women. #TDOR
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) November 20, 2020
The 37 #trans people killed this year were taken far too soon, & each represents a call to action to stem the violence. This means educating the public, advocating for change in gov't, & lifting voices of those still here to demand equality. #TDOR #TransgenderDayOfRemembrance pic.twitter.com/v0F7jDQO64
— National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) November 20, 2020
Honoring the Transgender Day of Remembrance, NMAC (formerly known as the National Minority AIDS Council) has released a powerful tribute – “But…I Survived” – directed and choreographed by John Alix and dedicated to transgender women of color.
Peppermint, Mila Jam, and Deja “The Lady Deja Davenport” Smith are featured in the new video set to Sia’s song “Alive.”