Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR)

Posted on 31-10-2019 by Cecily Stevenson

Hi. My name is Alexus and I’m the Trans Wellbeing Support Worker at Birmingham LGBT Centre. I wanted to write about TDoR from my own perspective as a Trans woman so what follows is just that. But first a little history on how TDoR came about.

On November 28 1998 a Trans woman called Rita Hester was murdered in Allston, Massachusetts. The following week, a candlelit vigil took place attended by around 250 people. In 1999, a Trans woman, Gwendolyn Ann Smith, founded Transgender Day of Remembrance to honour not just the memory of Rita Hester but all Trans people who have been murdered for being who they are, simply put for being Trans.

From such a small beginning, TDoR has grown into a global event that takes place each year on the 20 November.

In the UK we are somewhat insulated from violence leading to death, the overall murder rate in the UK is fairly low compared to other parts of the world, at 12.4 recorded homicides per million population (to the end of March 2018). But that does not make us immune from the effects of bigotry, ignorance and transphobia. The reported incidences of transgender hate crimes is generally small across all police forces but recorded figures have risen by 37%, as have hate crimes overall. I suspect this masks a whole raft of unreported crime.

I think it is also worth looking at TDoR in relation to the current toxic atmosphere that has developed around Trans people, specifically the daily questioning and denial of our lives as men and women, whether or not you prefix those with the word Trans. As a Trans woman, I especially feel this as generally we appear to bear the brunt of the attack. (I was going to use a different word but attack about sums it up).

This toxicity feeds upon itself, not only does it embolden those who spew forth their bile but also of course it continually harms those who are the targets, it can corrode our sense of confidence, corrode our self worth and, crucially , our feelings of safety. How can this be right when all we want to do, all that anyone wants to do come to that, is get on with our lives?

I think it so important that as a community we do stand together, especially on TDoR ,  and take some time to pause and reflect on those lives that have been brutalized and lost for being themselves.

I think the words of Gwendolyn Ann Smith are particularly relevant, not only to TDoR but also more generally:

‘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’.

Finally, Birmingham LGBT will be holding a TDoR event at the Centre on the 20 November from 1800 – 2000. Food, tea/coffee will be available and weather permitting, there will be a vigil at the Pagoda Island. Please come along, if you feel able to, and if you want to bring music, poetry, anything that you want to share, please do so. This is something that we wish wasn’t necessary but remember, we can stand together and together, we stand.