This coming Sunday, November 20, marks the 13th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a time to honor the memory of those whose lives were lost due to anti-transgender violence. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was first observed following the murder of 34-year-old African American transgender woman and advocate, Rita Hester. On November 28, 1998, Rita was stabbed 20 times in her apartment. Rita’s neighbor called the police, and she was rushed to the hospital, but passed away from cardiac arrest before being admitted. Her killer(s) have still not been found. Rita was an active member of the transgender community in her native Boston, and a year after her death, advocate and writer Gwendolyn Ann Smith held a vigil commemorating both Rita and all of the people who have died as a result of anti-transgender violence.
The tradition that Gwendolyn began continues on today as LGBT advocates around the world come together every year to remember those victims of bias-motivated crime who were targeted based on their gender or perceived gender identity or expression. In community centers, schools, places of worship, and other spaces, people will attend vigils and memorial services to show support for the transgender and gender non-conforming community and raise awareness about the intense violence and discrimination they face. Earlier this year, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released the comprehensive study, “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.” The study presented staggering findings regarding the immense number of transgender people facing discrimination. As the findings indicate, transgender people are not only subject to violence, but also to discrimination in employment, housing, and several other areas that affect their lives every day.
GLAAD encourages the LGBT community and its allies to attend vigils and memorial services this coming weekend commemorating the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Members of the media can educate themselves about the transgender community and the issues they face by visiting GLAAD’s Transgender Day of Rememberance Resource Page. We are encouraging the media to report on the Transgender Day of Remembrance and highlight the resourcefulness of a community facing unprecedented discrimination and violence. GLAAD will be sharing the thoughts and stories of transgender persons throughout the coming week.