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Transgender Day of Remembrance is About Transgender Resilience

Posted by Owen Smith at Nov 20, 2015 03:30 PM |

Every year on November 20th, LGBTQ advocates and allies come together to remember all of the transgender people around the world lost to anti-trans violence. This year, like in years past, the majority of those transgender people are transgender women of color. The undeniable reality of extreme cisgenderism/transphobia, sexism, racism, and homophobia/heterosexism all rolled into each violent act is a life ended too soon by violence. This day – today – is nationally known as Transgender Day of Remembrance, or TDOR.

Every year on November 20th, LGBTQ advocates and allies come together to remember all of the transgender people around the world lost to anti-trans violence. This year, like in years past, the majority of those transgender people are transgender women of color. The undeniable reality of extreme cisgenderism/transphobia, sexism, racism, and homophobia/heterosexism all rolled into a violent act is a life ended too soon by violence. This day – today – is internationally known as Transgender Day of Remembrance, or TDOR.

As a transgender person who lives at a few identity intersections, I have gotten to know many, many remarkable transgender people – all of them powerful leaders in their very own ways. I have also gotten to know people who would later be remembered on a TDOR.

Last year, I lost a fellow social justice advocate and good friend. She was also transgender and we had once spoken at depth of what TDOR meant to us. We talked much about how TDOR was more about pity: of remembering where or how a person died instead of how they lived and who they were. When I heard of her passing last year, I was heartbroken I couldn’t attend her memorial. When TDOR came around, I was able to share of how she had lost her job when she transitioned and turned to sex work as her only means of survival, and then how she was able to get a GED, and then a job; and then she spent every Thursday-to-Sunday walking the streets giving out condoms, snacks, and beverages to sex workers, and how she took other trans sex workers into her home and helped them get GEDs and get on their feet again. I was able to mourn her passing the way I wished I could have at her memorial while still honoring her wishes for remembering how she loved and lived – and not just how she died.

This year, I was thrilled to learn about a new project that partners of the Western States Center created, that seeks to start discourse about transgender lives and resiliency on this TDOR. I am excited because it sheds the light on the complex identities of transgender and gender non-conforming folks and calls out what is causing the violent deaths of transgender people across the world. There is a clear call for action out to social justice advocates and supporters, lead by transgender leaders of color, asking all to “Give us our roses while we are still here!” – reminding us all that it’s not enough to simply mourn but that it’s on all of us to shift the culture to respect and humanize all transgender lives, particularly within communities of color.

As a person who has survived violent assault due to my gender identity and expression, I am walking into this TDOR with less guilt for surviving and greater resolve to create a better world for every transgender person. I will remember my fallen sibling’s lives while honoring the resiliency of every transgender person by lifting-up those at the identity intersections most likely to be met with deadly violence and systemic oppressions.

Join me in sharing this powerful and inspiring cultural dialog starter that is about celebrating the lives and loves and resiliency of all transgender people. It is up to us to create a world where this violence doesn't happen anymore – something that starts simply with conversations about our stories and our lives and our resiliency.

Eight transgender and gender non-conforming artists paired with eight transgender justice organizations to re-imagine a world beyond survival -- a world of power, love, and liberation for all transgender people. The project was led by our friends at Strong Families, and included many of our partners -- including Transgender Law CenterFeel free to share and use it in your own social media advocacy for today. 


In resiliency, solidarity, and love -

Owen Smith
Capacity Building Manager
Western States Center

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