Reflecting on Transgender Day of Remembrance
On Nov. 5, Noony Norwood, a transgender woman, was fatally shot in Richmond, Va., four days after her 30th birthday. Norwood’s death marks the latest in an epidemic of violence against transgender people — people whose gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth.
This year is the deadliest on record for transgender people. Norwood’s death was counted as at least the 23rd known murder of a transgender person in 2016. Last year, 21 trans people were reported murdered. Each year, the vast majority of these are trans women of color.
Each year, trans people are killed in violent acts of bigotry and hatred. That’s why it’s more important than ever to recognize the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). Observed each year on November 20, TDoR is a day dedicated to memorializing victims of transphobic violence around the world. The event was founded in honor of Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed in 1998.
When it comes to discrimination and harassment, transgender people have fewer legal protections than many other groups in the United States. In 32 states, it is legal to fire an employee for being transgender. Over the last few years, the question of whether trans people should have the right to use affirming bathrooms has become a national political debate. While court decisions are gradually beginning to affirm protections for trans people under the law, policy changes to explicitly protect trans people are coming slowly.
The importance of the movement for trans rights and trans lives has never been clearer. That’s part of why TDoR is so important: it honors those who can no longer take to the streets with us because anti-transgender violence took them from us.
However, TDoR should not be the only moment when we acknowledge transgender people’s fight. Especially for those who are not transgender, it is critical to uplift trans people in the brilliance of their lives, not merely in the shadows of their deaths. In fact, it’s dangerous to only recognize transgender people on TDoR, when the reality is that the trans rights movement is a constant one.
All year long, we must celebrate transgender people for living, breathing and achieving in the face of such adversity and hate; advocate for affirming policies that support trans people’s rights to live freely; and confront bias and transphobia in ourselves and in others, even when it is uncomfortable to do so. We must remember those we’ve lost every day of the year. We must always say their names.
Here are some ways that people are taking action in New York City and beyond:
- The LGBT Center is hosting two simultaneous TDoR events this Friday, Nov. 18, from 7PM to 9PM.
- The Audre Lorde Project, a New York-based group for LGBTQ people of color, held an event earlier this week.
- The official TDoR website tracks events happening around the world. Share these with anyone in your community seeking places to gather and reflect.
Finally, if you’re transgender and seeking health services, our team would be happy to help.
On November 20, we grieve. But the next day, and the next and the next, we fight.