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Trans Day of Remembrance is More Than Just One Day

November 20th is the Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR). This is the day, the time we set aside to honor the memories of those trans and gender nonconforming (GNC) folks whose lives were taken this year as a result of hate, bigotry, and ignorance. Stigma is unfortunately one of the greatest liabilities in the lives of TS/GNC people. In the past twelve months over 375 trans and gender-diverse people were murdered globally as a result of hate and prejudice. 58% of the murders of Trans people are Trans sex workers and in 2021 alone there have been at least 45 murders of trans and GNC folks in the US - but it’s important to keep in mind that many murders of TS/GNC people are not reported or misreported, so the figure is likely higher.

TS/GNC youth and Queer youth have higher rates of homelessness, with an astonishing 40% of homeless and runaway youth identifying as LGBTQ. Lack of familial acceptance means many youth are faced with deciding either to be who they are or get out of their families’ homes.

Stigma and a lack of acceptance are enormous risk factors for violence for TS/GNC people. This is because of the buffering effect of having a family who accepts who you are. Family is a resource, in so many ways, it is in the most literal way a support system and shelters (quite literally) youth from exploitation, trauma, predators, violence, poverty etc. In the worst of situations and in the worst of homes, a bad family could mean all of the above and more. For BIPOC TS/GNC people, the stigma and prejudice of their identity is compounded by the stigma and prejudice faced in the world for their race and ethnicity. This is why the homicide rate of Black Trans women is much higher than for white trans people. Make no mistake, racism is a public health crisis, and especially in the lives of BIPOC trans persons.

You may have never heard of TDOR before or you may have heard of it but not been really sure what it means. Here are some ideas for ways in which we can all honor the memories of the TS/GNC people who were tragically murdered this year:

Light a candle - Take a breath, take a moment, take several moments - light a candle and create sacred space for the people who have had their lives taken from them so violently and unnecessarily this year. You don’t have to be religious to do this and the act of creating sacred space for our Trans and Queer ancestors is a powerful thing.

Talk about it - When you’re at your boring vanilla office job today or waiting in that extra long line at the grocery store, use this as an opportunity to talk about TDOR to someone who may have never heard of it. Even if they have heard of it, who cares? Talk about it anyways. This is like lighting a candle metaphorically - by talking about TDOR and saying the names of those murdered, we are lighting a candle in the darkness. We are honoring their spirits and linking them to a larger spiritual cause - the cause of raising awareness and eliminating stigma, transphobia and racism.

Consume the art of a TS/GNC person - Buy a book by a trans author, watch a show by and about trans issues, follow a trans artist on Twitter or Instagram. Better yet, if you can, buy a piece of art by a Trans artist. Trans artists are so important and they give us so much - amazing literature, great tv and movies, beautiful visual arts. Appreciate a Trans artist today.

TDOR is only one day out of the year. I highly encourage you to honor Trans people all year long. Sometimes it can be easier to know what to do if it’s only one day, but we lose sight of how to honor and uplift the Trans community on the other 364 days of the year. Here is an additional list of ways you can honor the TS community everyday:

Pay a Trans artist - This one appeared on the previous list for TDOR, but ya know what? It’s so good I’m listing it twice. Our country treats artists horribly. Trans and GNC artists, especially BIPOC Trans artists, have it even harder. If you can afford to buy art by a Trans person, whether it’s visual art or the written word, please do so as often as you can. Trans artists and writers, especially BIPOC artists and writers have a very uphill battle to deal with a compounded brick wall of stigma and institutional oppression from racism to anti-blackness to transphobia, etc.

Pay a Trans person in general! - If you have a Trans friend, pay them directly. No reason needed. If you don’t, there are many reputable Trans led nonprofits you can and should donate to that include Molly’s Project, Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network, and GLITS.

Now that you have some ideas for how to honor TDOR and also continue to honor the work of Trans people all year long, go forth and do it!

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