by Katherine Noble
The LGBTQ+ community faces emotional, physical, and societal violence throughout the world. There are only 29 countries where same-sex marriage is legal. Prejudices abound, often to awful extremes. There are still a dozen countries in the world where being LGBTQ+ is punishable by death. Of all LGBTQ+ people, transgender people face some of the highest rates of violence.
In one study, more than half of trans people reported facing serious acts of discrimination, such as eviction, job loss, bullying, or assault. This does not include constant transphobic rhetoric and “humor” that has long been perpetuated in our media and culture. Additionally, trans people are more likely to experience homelessness than their cisgender peers; this can lead them into survival sex work and other dangerous positions where they are particularly susceptible to harassment and harm.
In the United States, the LGBTQ+ community makes up about 4.5% of the population. However, sexual orientation ranks as the third-highest motivator for hate crimes, just behind race and religion. One in five LGBTQ+ people will experience a hate crime; that number is one in four for transgender people. These numbers, based on police reports, are likely higher in actuality, as many people are afraid of reporting these types of crimes for fear of retaliation or being outed.
Just this year, at least 36 trans or gender non-conforming people have been fatally shot or killed in the United States. They were all valued community members, friends, family, and human beings with inherent dignity. Each one of these people deserved to live.
Today we honor Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), an annual observance on November 20 that honors all those transgender people who have been killed in violent, transphobic acts.
TDOR was started in 1999 by transgender activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor Rita Hester, a trans woman murdered the year prior. Smith hosted a vigil to commemorate the lives of all transgender people lost to violence. This has become an important tradition for the LGBTQ+ community, highlighting the losses suffered by the community and the world as a whole.
Vigils are typically held on November 20 at community centers or parks. Although it will look different this year, many organizations and groups will still be hosting virtual vigils, as well as informational and support groups.
Today, on this Transgender Day of Remembrance, we honor the memories of transgender people whose lives have been lost to transphobic violence throughout the years, and we fight for the right of all members of the LGBTQ+ community to live free from all violence.