[Resist!] Trans Day of Remembrance

Co-written with Karolyn Givogue.

On November 28, 1998, Rita Hester, an out transgender African-American woman, was found dead in her apartment, having sustained multiple stab wounds. Her life and death inspired the first Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil in San Francisco on November 20, 1999.

This year marks the 12th Transgender Day of Remembrance, now an annual event with actions taking place in hundreds of locations worldwide. Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is a day of mourning, of community building and survival.

This year, Peterborough’s Trans Day of Remembrance events will be hosted by the Centre for Gender and Social Justice, with the support of the Trent Queer Collective and will include a film screening and community potluck dinner followed by a vigil in honour of TDOR.

We will be screening Screaming Queens: The Riots at Compton’s Cafeteria, an award-winning documentary by Susan Stryker that seeks to uncover the little known history of the Compton’s Cafeteria riots that took place in August of 1966.

While the Stonewall Riots in New York City that took place in 1969 most often symbolize the beginnings of an organized LGBTTQQI2SA movement, the riots at Compton’s in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district are increasingly being recognized as a historic moment in the history of trans and queer resistance.

When asked about the difference between the riots at Compton’s and those at Stonewall in an interview with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Ms. Stryker responds that it has mostly to do with media coverage. As a relatively small local event in an already neglected neighbourhood, the media wasn’t there to cover the Compton’s riots. The event remained in the hearts and memories of those who were there but didn’t travel far beyond them.

By gathering for an evening of film, food and discussion, we hope to build stronger relationships and communities while celebrating Trans histories of survival and resistance. At the community procession and vigil, we will reflect, mourn and honour those who have come before us and those who have left.

This year, we also want to support Trans people by building community capacity through creating spaces for cisgendered friends, family members, partners and community members to discuss working towards allyship with Trans folks. So, as part of TDOR programming there will be a Trans Solidarity workshop on November 14.

Trans folks are disproportionately affected by violence, and we need to fight against cis-sexism, cis-supremacy and transphobia in our communities by having collective conversations about creating allies and solidarity in order to build supportive, Trans-positive spaces and relationships.

Also, since most cases of transphobic violence are perpetrated against transwomen, most of which are racial and many of whom are sex workers, it is important to discuss and challenge the racist, classist, and anti-sex worker motivations of violence. The Trans Solidarity workshop will be a space for discussion, relationship building, and sharing resources, knowledge and work.

All allies who would like to perform, read, present, or share a story at the vigil are encouraged to attend the workshop as an opportunity to participate in conversations on supporting Trans people in our daily lives, the roles and responsibilities of allies during commemorative times such as TDOR, and expressing solidarity through art, poetry, music and narratives. The workshop is for all allies, designed with the understanding that no ally is an expert and that learning is ongoing.

Those who would like to share words, thoughts, poetry or otherwise speak or perform during the vigil portion of the evening are encouraged to contact the CGSJ by email at centreforgsj@gmail.com or stop by the office located in Sadleir House (751 George St N.) room 202. This is so we can try to have the evening run as smoothly as possible as well be able to better anticipate any accommodations that may be necessary.