Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) was created by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1999 while holding a vigil to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in 1998. Since this day, TDoR remains an annual event to highlight those lost to violence and anti-transgender bigotry.
I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people – sometimes in the most brutal ways possible – it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice -Gwendolyn Ann Smith
During this past year, Transrespect Versus Transphobia Worldwide (TvT) recorded at least 350 transgender and gender-diverse people who were murdered from the beginning of October 2019 until the end of September 2020. This total represents a 6% increase from the previous year. In particular, ranking Brazil #1 (152), Mexico #2 (57) and the United States #3 (37). Of the 350 reported, 98% of those murdered are trans women or feminine identifying individuals, highlighting the gruesome patterns of transmisogyny and the global violence against women. In the Human Rights Campaign’s report, the majority of murders in the United States are of Black or Latinx ancestry, providing evidence of targeting individuals based off of racial discrimination. Included in this list is Tony McDade, a Black transgender man who was shot by a Tallahassee police officer, two days after the death of George Floyd. During the ongoing protests in June, the murders of Riah Milton and Dominique Fells sparked a gathering of over 15,000 people in New York City as a rally to support Black Trans lives.
It is important to note, that even with this information that these stories are often unreported or misreported, with people being misgendered or the report being portrayed differently by the authorities.. For an example on November 4, 2020, 519, a non-profit community support network for the 2SLGBTQ+community in Toronto put pressure on the Special Investigations Unit and Toronto police, as reported in The Star (Toronto), to correct misgendering a transgender woman who died.
“There is a history of mistrust for the Toronto police in the LGBTQ2S+ community stemming back to the days of bathhouse raids and even much earlier.” -City Council Ward, Kristyn Wong-Tam
The information above is imperative to acknowledging the history behind TDoR and to understanding that the vast majority of cases occur because of racial targeting, sexism and violence against women. The lack of information and continuous femmephobic sentiment is seen even in our own 2SLGBTQ+ community and we have to understand how to support each other. We have to be clear that our freedom and rights would not be available to us if it were not for those who have fought before.
On November 20, 2020 Gender Journeys hosted a Trans Day of Remembrance Virtual Vigil* to honour those who have been lost due to transphobia, femmephobia and racism. This a day to honour all of those who lost their lives to violence and discrimination and bring awareness to the continued violence that transgender and gender diverse individuals endure. By bringing forth awareness, we celebrate our strength, passions and resiliency as a community. Later in the night, a virtual open mic occurred hosted by the Trent Queer Collective and Gender Journeys where one of our local queens, Janice (from Haus of Accounting), MC’d the event and preformed her moving and entertaining lip synchs. During this event, local talent was showcased in the form of emotional spoken word, guitar covers, lip syncs, dance and creative originals. For those who attended, the feeling was rare, one of being supported and understood. The main message was loud and clear – that you deserve to take up space and that our community is full of resiliency.
By amplifying this theme, local groups and community members continue to create spaces for transgender and gender diverse individuals. A collaboration between the Trent Queer Collective and Gender Journeys, a Trent-based group called Comrades for Gender Liberation is available for students to explore their gender identity and expression. This bi-weekly support group will take place over Zoom on Thursdays from 4-6pm. Gender Journeys also has a virtual Core Group that offers education and support for transgender, non-binary and questioning folks hosted bi-weekly every Tuesday from 4:30-6:30pm until January 12, 2021 for members of the community.
*These events were supported by the Trent Queer Collective, Gender Journeys, Peterborough Aids Resource Network, Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, Fleming College, and The Centre for Women and Trans People.
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