“The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. 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.”
–Gwendolyn Ann Smith, Founder of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR)
Smith founded the Transgender Day of Remembrance after the murder of Rita Hester on November 28, 1998, to memorialize the victims of anti-transgender hatred and violence. While the U.S. is a country that is generally lauded as a liberal-democratic society, the reality is that it has remained the same throughout decades — largely white, heteronormative, cisnormative and patriarchal.
In the past year, trans women of color, particularly black trans women have suffered different forms of violence: state violence, anti-transgender violence as well as economic and social violence. Landis Capri. Rae’Lynn Thomas. Dee Whigham. Erykah Tijerina. Shaylene Graves. I also remember Jennifer Laude, a trans Filipino woman, victim of transphobia and killed by U.S. Marine soldier Pemberton.
I was reminded of Janet Mock’s book Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More which has been sitting inside my bedside table drawer for the past year and a half. I’ve kept it so close (and unfortunately hidden from sight) that I haven’t actually gotten around to reading it.
Still, there are many things and bits of wisdom to be gleaned from the book, as a queer immigrant in solidarity with my trans familia.
“I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community.”
–Janet Mock, Redefining Realness
While today is for mourning and honoring the lives of trans folks, it also serves as a reminder of the work that all of us need to support and to uplift the voices of our trans familia. To acknowledge and affirm so much of the transformative work that has been done to counter the prevailing narrative, and to learn how we can be better allies to the trans community.
This piece on 12 trans folks whose work we should know about is a must-read, written and illustrated by Ronni Ritchie. There are also organizations doing amazing work like the Transgender, Gender-Variant, Intersex (TGI) Justice Project and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project as well as grassroots efforts of compiling resources like this queer & trans survival guide in the age of Trump.
Check out TDoR events and locations in your area here.
Pia Cortez is a writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She runs a book blog called Libromance where she reviews books and publishes literary features with a queer Filipino immigrant lens. She is a contributor at Hella Pinay, an online magazine for Filipino-American women and at New Life Quarterly, a literary magazine based in Oakland, California. She is currently working on her first novel.