[trigger warning: transphobia, transmisogyny, racism, misogynoir, abuse]
November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance. It was started in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in remembrance of the murder of Rita Hester, a Black trans woman from Massachusetts. 15 years later, it is acknowledged annually regarding the deaths of trans people due to transphobia and transmisogyny at the hands of both citizens and the State. As Gwendolyn has written:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is not an event for fundraisers and beer busts. It’s not an event we ‘celebrate.’ It is not a quick and easy one-day way for organizations to get credit for their support of the transgender community. It’s not something to trot out on the 20th of November and forget about. We should be working every day for all of us, living and dead.
This violence disproportionately impacts Black trans women and trans women of colour at higher rates than other people in the trans community and LGBTQ community. This year alone 21 year old Islan Nettles, 26 year old Eyricka Morgan and 32 year old Domonique Newburn were murdered. Both Islan (as Janet Mock so beautifully and painfully wrote about) and Eyricka Morgan were misgendered upon their deaths. Cece McDonald is still incarcerated (in a men’s prison) for defending herself against racist transmisogynistic violence.
As Monica Roberts at TransGriot—a Black trans woman who is a trans activist and writer—so passionately notes in her her essay 238 Names:
We’re fed up with reading the names of so many young trans* women and sadly a few trans* men this year who will never get to experience another birthday. Far too many of them who were killed this year were under the age of 35. We’re fed up with contemplating the disturbing fact some of the names we’ll be reading during these TDOR memorials hadn’t even made it to age 21 yet. We’re fed up in the African-American and Latin@ trans* communities of far too many of our people dying and our politicians, clergy and media pundits being cricket chirping silent about it. We’re fed up with legislative inaction on the human rights laws it’s painfully obvious trans* people need at the local, state and federal levels as a wide range of people from trans exclusionary radical feminists to right-wing politicians gleefully spread disinformation and lies to roll back or retard our progress. We’re fed up with our people dying and our people choosing suicide over life because you transphobic cisgender haters have made it so hostile and uncomfortable for them to live.
Below is some reading relevant to Transgender Day of Remembrance and the violence that trans women, especially Black trans women and other trans women of colour face.
Trans people’s lives matter and their safety is at risk. Black trans women face an incredible amount of violence and other social, legislative, medical, and financial/employment risks that have to change. This violence has to end.