Beyond Pride Month: Understanding Transgender Day of Remembrance, Nov. 20th
Vice President, In-Person Qualitative Research
The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is recognized around the world as a day to honor the memory of the more than 4,600 transgender people who are known to have been killed in acts of transgender violence and hate since 2008 (Trans Murder Monitoring Report, 2023).
How TDOR started: In 1999, transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith organized a small gathering in the Castro district of San Francisco to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a highly visible member of the transgender community who had been brutally murdered in her home. That vigil was intended to commemorate Rita’s life as well as the lives of all the others who had fallen victim to anti-transgender violence. At that time, Smith also launched the Transgender Day of Remembrance website https://www.transgenderdor.org/. Today, organizations from all over the world recognize this day as a time to honor the many transgender people who have lost their lives to violence.
A record number of murders—still likely under-reported: So far, in 2023, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has tracked at least 25 transgender people who have been violently killed in the U.S. At the same time, the HRC acknowledges that these crimes are grossly under-reported or misreported due to transphobia. More than half (56%) of the victims were then subsequently misgendered or deadnamed (referred to by their pre-transition name) by authorities or the press after their death—an act that, when deliberately done, is often intended to deny, mock, or invalidate a person’s gender identity. Unaccepting family members, police, reporters, and other officials may misgender the victims, hide their transgender identity, or fail to report they are transgender/gender non-confirming,– all of which contribute to the actual number of murders being under-reported
Further, nearly three-quarters (72%) of victims were killed with a gun, and almost half (47%) of victims (with a known killer) were killed by a romantic/sexual partner, friend or family member. And people of color and Black transgender women continue to be disproportionately impacted; in 2023, a huge proportion (88%) of victims were people of color, and 52% were Black transgender women.
Why is this happening?
Legislation, stigma, and rhetoric are fueling the fire: Internationally, Transrespect.org attributes the concerning statistics to a global trend of increased misogyny, racism and xenophobia. In the U.S., the HRC citesstaggering ongoing anti-transgender legislation, stigma, and demeaning rhetoric against the transgender community as having a clear impact on public opinion and contributing to these acts of violence and hate. In fact, at least 21 states have passed some kind of restriction on transgender people. Nationwide in 2022 alone, at least 25 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were enacted, including 17 anti-transgender laws across 13 states, and more than 145 anti-transgender bills were introduced across 34 states.
Lack of attention among the public: Even with the volume of bills being passed and discussed, a 2022 Pew study found that only 8% of Americans say they are closely following news about transgender-related bills—68% say they are only following them a little or not at all closely.
Why it matters: these victims are us—they are our parents, siblings, children, friends, and neighbors…they are our colleagues, our vendors, our clients, and your brand’s consumers.
Some tips on how you can support:
- Revisit your HR hiring policies, and grief support policies to ensure they allow all of your employees to thrive
- Make TDOR a part of your ongoing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and/or LGBTQ+ initiatives
- Consider ways to encourage or support staff and/or your customers/community to do something creative and restorative in remembrance, such as a mural project, a sticky note wall, or some kind of art making session etc.
- Attend a vigil, encourage and/or support your employees organizing and/or attending a vigil, consider offering up your space as a gathering place
- Be an ally: educate yourself on transgender issues, stand up when you hear or see transphobic content, and be a part of positive change in our culture
- It’s about people, not marketing: In the words of the Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 2012:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is not an event for fundraisers and beer busts. It’s not an event we “celebrate.” It is not a quick and easy one-day way for organizations to get credit for their support of the transgender community. It’s not something to trot out on the 20th of November and forget about. We should be working every day for all of us, living and dead.
In memory of those we have lost to violence and hate in 2023
- Learn more—your partners at C+R Research can help you dig deeper and broaden your understanding–Talk to us!