Today is a guest post from one of the other members of our affiliate who also manages a gender studies department at a local university.
As many of you may already know, yesterday marked the 13th Transgender Day of Remembrance. For those of you who hadn’t heard of it before, this day exists to mark the loss of all of the people who’ve died during the past year as a result of violence based on bias against transgender people.
It first came about because of Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer, columnist, and activist, wanted to memorialize the death of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts in 1998. She created the project Remembering Our Dead in 1999, marking the anniversary of Rita’s murder with a candlelight vigil. Rita’s murder is still unsolved.
In the 13 years that this day has been commemorated, we’ve remembered 328 people who were killed within the US because they were trans*. We’ve remembered 313 people who lived outside of the US who were killed because they were trans*. We’ve remembered the countless others whose deaths haven’t been reported, where the circumstances of their deaths aren’t known, who took their own lives because of the transphobic violence they faced, and whose names are unknown to us.
Remembering people whom we’ve never met is important, because for those of us who didn’t know them, it can be too easy for tragedies to get reduced to numbers. But knowing their names and seeing their faces means that we acknowledge how their deaths – deaths that are often minimized, trivialized or ignored by the mainstream media – affect us all.
Even if this is the first time you’ve heard any of their names, their deaths do affect each one of us. Every time someone is murdered or attacked because of who they are, we’re losing a part of our community to hatred and intolerance.
The Day of Remembrance is about the people who are no longer with us because of this violence. While more states, and even the IRS, are becoming more accepting of transgender individuals, the problem of violence is far from solved. Today, and going forward, it’s up to the rest of us to keep working for a world where that violence has no home.