This Sunday is Transgender Day of Remembrance
This Sunday is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), which is an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. TDOR began in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith, who hosted a vigil to honor those lost to violence in the past year. She was motivated to host this vigil because of the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, MA in 1998. This began a tradition that has been carried out for the past 20+ years. Vigils are often held on November 20th, additionally organizers and activists in the week prior to TDOR participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility about transgender people and address issues members of the community face. It is important to raise awareness and break the silence surrounding all kinds of violence.
Definitions from the Human Rights Campaign
Transgender, Gender Nonconforming, and Nonbinary Identities and Abuse
Transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary people are at a higher risk of experiencing violence than their gender-conforming peers. According to the Williams Institute, 30% to 50% of transgender people experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetime compared to 28% to 33% in the general population. Additionally, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “47%, almost half of all transgender people have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, and these rates are even higher for trans people of color and those who have done sex work, been homeless, or have (or had) a disability.” It is so important to not only raise awareness about this form of gender-based violence, but also work to change the additional barriers that trans and gender nonconforming victims and survivors face.
Societal barriers and preconceptions about transness and gender nonconformity greatly impact the lives and choices of trans victims and survivors. Kae Greenberg, in their article “Still Hidden in the Closet: Trans Women and Domestic Violence” in the Berkeley Journal of Gender Law and Justice outlines some of the barriers that trans victims and survivors face clearly: “The inadequacy of services available for abused trans people due to societal transphobia also helps the abusers maintain coercive control over their partners. Besides having access to few services, abused trans people may be unwilling to call on transphobic police for help because they fear that the police will not believe them or will abuse them too. Also, trans people may be barred from battered women’s shelters because of shelter policies. Finally, their abusers may threaten trans parents with the loss of their children, a very real possibility for a trans person whose child custody is challenged in court.” These are only a few examples of the additional struggles that exist at the intersection of abuse and a trans identity. It is vital to keep in mind all of the intersecting identities of people experiencing abuse, so that we as a community can better support all people.
Resources for Supporting Transgender, Gender Nonconforming, and Nonbinary People Experiencing Abuse
There are some important resources to help transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary people experiencing abuse. We have included a couple below and hope you will share these in your communities.
The LGBT National Help Center offers free and confidential support and resources to all members of the LGBTQIA+ community. They can connect you to local, national, and even international resources.
FORGE is a national transgender anti-violence organization providing direct services to transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary survivors of sexual assault as well as providing training and technical assistance to providers around the country who work with transgender survivors of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking.
The Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change, working to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities.
Ways to Honor TDOR
Attend a local vigil or memorial in your community. TDOR events are often hosted at houses of worship, parks, or public buildings.
Donate time, money, or in-kind contributions to local transgender-serving organizations.
Spread the word about TDOR.
Take in transgender media: It’s common for allies to the transgender community to read about the community but not hear from it directly. A way to change that is to consume media made by transgender people about the experience. Texas Public Radio has created a list of podcasts and books that can be used as a starting point to learn more from transgender activists and artists.
Include transgender people experiencing violence in your prayers. You can see an example below from enfleshed.