Saturday, Nov. 20, marks the annual commemoration of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). It's a day that nationally celebrates the lives of the transgender people we've lost. The special day was created in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender activist, to celebrate the life of Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed in 1998.
"Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence," said Smith in a statement describing the day's purpose. "I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered and that we continue to fight for justice."
Forbes reports that 2021 has been the "deadliest year" for transgender murders globally since "records began," citing at least 375 such incidents so far.
Across the country, the LGBTQ+ and allied community will come together to offer solace and safe spaces to heal. Here are eight ideas for commemorating TDOR:
Attend a local TDOR vigil.
For a complete list of the eight events taking place across the state, go to Transgender Michigan's website. Events are happening in Bay City, East Lansing, Ferndale, Flint, Grand Rapids, Holland and Kalamazoo. The names of 308 trans persons murdered over the last year will be read at the Ferndale vigil. In Flint, five trans activists will speak and share their stories.
Hold a private vigil alone or with friends.
You can find 308 names of trans individuals murdered over the last year at TDOR's website. Light a candle or candles and read all of them. Saying their names honors their memories and brings respect — something so many trans people have had to fight for all their lives.
Consider donating to a local or even national transgender advocacy group.
You can donate to Gender-identity Network Association (GNA), Transgender Michigan, Transcend the Binary, Trans Sistas of Color Project (TSOCP) or even the National Center for Transgender Equality. Each of these organizations does essential work and are severely underfunded. It's worth noting here that TSOCP gives direct funds to transgender women in need if you're trying to make an immediate impact.
Plan a different kind of event of your own to raise funds and awareness if you have the capacity.
You could screen a transgender-related film or documentary for friends and take up a collection afterward. You could sponsor a local food drive to benefit the trans community. Or plan a bike-a-thon, rock-a-thon or just about anything you and your friends would like.
Acknowledge and recognize TDOR on your social media.
This is a simple yet powerful way to raise awareness for TDOR. It's suggested that you black out your profile pic for the day and explain why. Some social media apps will likely have TDOR-themed pics you can post. Don't be afraid to engage if someone asks you about TDOR. Education is the only solution to ignorance.
Wear a black ribbon pinned to your shirt.
If anybody asks why, tell them about TDOR. Talk from experience if you have it. If you have friends or family members who are transgender, talk about them and what they mean to you, and that they deserve the right to live and equal protection under the law.
Educate a friend or acquaintance about TDOR.
Go to GLAAD's website for general information about the day. Print it out if you can and share it with friends. Most people don't realize how many transgender people, particularly women, are killed each year. All life should be valued, for all life is precious. Have faith in your conviction when you talk about these things.
Take a moment of silence.
If you can do nothing else, do this. Sit and take a moment of silence to acknowledge and honor the hundreds of lives needlessly lost over the last year. Light a candle and focus in your mind for a minute on a world where all life is respected. Think of love, and send those thoughts out into the universe.