An overview of the Transgender Day of Remembrance

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) was celebrated internationally on Nov. 20, 2018. It was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender activist and writer. She founded a website called Remembering Our Dead, and also created the first public forum on an online major service, the Transgender Community Forum. Smith founded this forum to honor Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in 1998 due to being transgender.

“The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence,” Smith said. “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,” said GLAAD Transgender Media Institute.

Currently, TDoR is celebrated internationally in order to honor Hester and all of the lives that were lost due to anti-transgender violence. At Harvard-Westlake (HW), this day will be celebrated by the Gender and Sexuality Awareness Club (GSA). All students and faculty will be encouraged to participate in honoring the lives lost.

“One of the best things the media can do is to accurately report on the violence committed against the transgender community,” said GSA leader Tim Smith. “This can be challenging, since not everyone identifies as trans, and more troubling, not all families want that piece of information disclosed. With the current effort to erase transgender people’s very existence, it is vital for all of us to stand up and not only recognize but support the transgender and gender-nonconforming community.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), at least 29 transgender people were fatally shot or killed by other violent means in 2017. The youngest of these 29 people was 17 years old. These anti-transgender crimes are even happening to high schoolers, so it is very important to recognize this day even in the HW community.

Spectrum interviewed some students in the HW Community about TDoR. “I just don’t think that someone should die or be killed for something that they are or for being themselves.” Marine Degryse ’22 said.

“We get to honor those who died and celebrate their lives.” Helen Sidon ’22 said.

This upcoming day is important for the HW community to think about and honor all of the transgender lives that have been lost due to anti-transgender violence. Look for signs on campus to learn more and keep an eye out for social media posts with #TDOR.

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