TransGThe Transgender Day of Remembrance

By Loki Shineman

The Transgender Day of Remembrance began as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998, kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder, like most anti-transgender murder cases, has yet to be solved. Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender (that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant), each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.

We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred-based violence. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. This trend shows no sign of abating.

The Day of Remembrance mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, a service that newsmedia doesn’t perform. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. The Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. The Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those who have died by anti-transgender violence.