TDOR 2014 Musings
guest post by Monica Roberts:
Today is the 15th anniversary of the Transgender Day of Remembrance(TDOR). TDOR was conceived by Gwen Smith in response to the murder of African-American trans woman Rita Hester on November 28, 1998, and Hester’s subsequent mis-gendering in gay and straight Boston media.
As of this writing, Hester’s killer has yet to be apprehended. Smith organized a vigil that happened in San Francisco and Boston in 1999, and it didn’t take long for TDOR to go national and eventually international.
TDOR 2014 finds me as one of the people still around that noted when the initial TDOR stated in 1999. I have participated in TDOR events in Long Island, NY, Louisville, San Antonio, and Houston, and I have seen the event grow substantially over the past 15 years.
TDOR is a time to remember our lost trans brothers and trans sisters that were tragically taken away from us from November 21 of the previous calendar year to November 20 of this year.
One of the things that really angered me this year was that all 11 trans people we lost in the United States were trans women of color. One of our lost sisters, from Brazil, was just 8 years old. Many of our fallen sisters are predominately POC under age 40, and Brazil continues to be unfortunately the world leader in trans murders.
But to shift back to the TDOR: it is an opportunity for the trans community to raise awareness that we exist and that these murders are happening. It gives us an opportunity to partner with our allies, community build, grieve for our dead, and steel ourselves for the ongoing task to ensure that we do the necessary work to make future TDOR’s unnecessary. Many locales also wrap trans educational events around the TDOR memorials. Some are sponsored by churches, or take place on college campuses.
The work that we need to do to create that better world that will hopefully make Transgender Day of Remembrances unnecessary is to educate people about trans lives.
We must advocate for trans human rights protective laws at the local, state and federal level to drive home the message that we are part of this community too. We must agitate for effective policing when our people are murdered. We must push for swift capture of the perpetrators of anti-trans violence, and when they are captured by law enforcement, punishing them for hate crimes. We must educate the law enforcement community how to respectfully treat deceased and living trans people. And we must also insist from the media respectful treatment of our deceased brothers and sisters as they cover these stories.
TDOR events are not just for the dead and all the people who loved and treasure their memories. They are more for the living. The Transgender Day of Remembrance reminds us on one level that there but for the grace of God go us, and that we never forget the people whose lives were tragically taken. It also is a powerful exhortation to do all that we can in conjunction with our allies to advance the human rights of the trans community at large and make a better world for ours and future generations of trans people.
by Monica Roberts, Native Houstonian, proud Texan writer, award winning blogger and civil rights activist fighting to make the world a better place for all. You can find more of her writing at her blog TransGriot. Also, follow her on Twitter @TransGriot.