Transgender Day of Remembrance Resource Kit for Journalists

Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors the memory of those murdered because of anti-transgender prejudice, is recognized annually on November 20. GLAAD encourages journalists to mark the occasion with stories about the pervasive problem of crimes against transgender people, as well as the diversity and resilience of the community in the face of harassment and violence.

Introduction

Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors the memory of those murdered in acts of anti-transgender violence, is recognized annually on November 20. GLAAD encourages journalists to mark the occasion with stories about the pervasive and persistent problem of violence committed against transgender people, as well as the diversity and resilience of the community in the face of harassment and violence. Local observances may vary, so be sure to check with a local transgender organization, LGBTQ Center, Gay-Straight Alliance or other support groups likely to be participating. For more information about Transgender Day of Remembrance, visit www.tdor.info.

Background

Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed in late November in recognition of the 1998 murder of Rita Hester. Rita was a highly visible member of the transgender community in her native Boston, MA where she worked locally on education around transgender issues. On Saturday, Nov. 28, Rita was stabbed 20 times in her apartment. A neighbor called the police, and Rita was rushed to the hospital. She passed away from cardiac arrest only moments after being admitted. Almost two decades later, police still have not found Rita’s murderer (or murderers). In 1999, one year after Rita’s murder, advocate and writer Gwendolyn Ann Smith coordinated a vigil in Rita’s honor. The vigil commemorated not only Rita, but all who were tragically lost to anti-transgender violence.

In addition to the vigil, Smith launched the Transgender Day of Remembrance website to recognize and remember those whose lives have been lost to anti-transgender violence. Organizations throughout the world — from Groupe Activiste Trans in Paris to Human Rights Commission of Tel Aviv in Israel to Diritti in Movimiento in Pescara, Italy — have since taken to recognizing the day. Media coverage of Transgender Day of Remembrance often includes documenting lives lost to violence, as well as expounding on the all too frequent harassment, discrimination, and disenfranchisement transgender people experience on a regular basis.

Violence toward the Transgender Community

The 2014 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-affected Hate Violence Report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects shows that, of the victims murdered, 80% were people of color, 55% were transgender women, and 50% were transgender women of color. Transgender women survivors of hate violence were also more likely to experience police violence, physical violence, discrimination, harassment, sexual violence, threats, and intimidation compared to those who were not transgender women. Findings from the 'Injustice at Every Turn' report conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National LGBTQ Task Force showed alarming rates of violence and harassment expreienced by the more than 6,000 transgender repondents across a variety of contexts, including educational settings, at work, in interactions with police and with family members, at homeless shelters, accessing public accommodations, and in jails and prisons. As murders of transgender people often go unreported, and the identity of transgender murder victims is often misreported, there is no way to know accurate numbers.

This ongoing and unslowing epidemic of violence committed against transgender and gender non-conforming people continues to climb and claim the lives of too many each year in the United States and across the globe. Many more incidences of murder and violence against transgender people go unreported, sometimes due to misgendering of the victim. For more stories of people who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hate violence, visit www.tdor.info.

Trans Respect Versus Transphobia Worldwide (TvT) also established The Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project, which systematically monitors, collects, and analyzes reports of homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people worldwide. Their reports can be found here

Story Ideas for Transgender Day of Remembrance

  • Call attention to local victims of anti-transgender violence. 
  • Highlight positive stories of transgender individuals, and the dehumanizing discrimination they have faced in their every day lives. Highlight statistics from the ‘Injustice at Every Turn’ report on anti-transgender discrimination. Remind your audience that dehumanization often leads to violence.
  • Anti-transgender violence isn’t just directed at adults. Statistics from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) show that in schools, 16.2% of transgender students report being physically assaulted as a result of gender expression, while 32.5% experience physical harassment. Talk with transgender youth about their experiences growing up.
  • Contact local transgender and LGBTQ organizations to find out how they plan to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance. Many universities and high schools, through their Gay-Straight Alliances and other organizations, hold candlelight vigils or other events to recognize the day.
  • Produce a feature on local individuals or organizations that are coordinating Transgender Day of Remembrance events and include information about how survivors of violence continue to be active in their communities.
  • Follow-up on unsolved local cases of transgender violence or murders to show where the investigation stands.
  • Spotlight stories of tragedies that inspired a community response against anti-transgender violence and discrimination. These stories of mobilized community responses to violence often go unreported but can be inspiring on this day of mourning.

Events to Look For

Though candlelight vigils are the most common way that local communities recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance, events may also include:

  • Marches
  • Forums and panel discussions with local advocates
  • Poetry or spoken word readings
  • Art exhibits
  • Movie screenings of feature films or documentaries that center transgender characters or subjects
  • Representations of the number of transgender people murdered, such as tombstone cutouts, memorials with photographs, or chalk outlines

Connect with local LGBTQ organizations for a complete listing of events being held throughout your community. View a list of local events. By seeking out such events, you will have an opportunity to connect with local advocates and hear their stories. 

Fair, Accurate, and Inclusive Coverage

Journalism is key to increasing public awareness and understanding of transgender people and issues. Opposing viewpoints on complex issues are, of course, vital to good journalism. However, there is a difference between opposing viewpoints and defamatory rhetoric that exists solely to fuel harassment and discrimination. If opposing viewpoints are necessary for a particular news story on Transgender Day of Remembrance, please contact organizations or individuals who have a clear stake in the issue from both sides and pair them appropriately.

Sensationalizing anti-transgender violence is disrespectful and degrading to both the victim and the victim’s family, and may bias an investigation. Sensitivity to appropriate pronouns, as well as the victim’s chosen name, which may be different from the name on that person's legal identification documents, is vital to accurate coverage. When reporting on the life of transgender person lost to violence, seek information from those close to the victim, and not bystanders who have no relationship to your subject. Misrepresenting or making jokes about the victim’s gender identity sends the message that it is acceptable to demean transgender people. Articles such as the New York Post’s August 2011 article “Fireman busted after violently 'beating' tr*nny pal” make light of violence against the transgender community and further dehumanize the victims of this violence.

Like many hate crimes, gender identity-based violence often goes unreported, or is misrepresented due to errors in identifying a victim's gender identity or name.

Include news reports of hate crimes against transgender Americans and other people signaled out for their gender identity and presentation in your coverage.

While this day is a day of mourning and remembrance, it is also a day to reflect on contributions to the community and the power of survival. While commemorating those lost to anti-transgender violence, please also detail the contributions of living transgender people. By highlighting these stories, you will undo some of the dehumanization that has taken place in the media and in society.

Further transgender-related terminology and explanations can also be found in GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide as well as the Associated Press Stylebook. View the Associated Press Stylebook at the AP Stylebook Web site or view GLAAD’s Transgender Glossary of Terms.

Terminology & Identification

Please find more information about terminology and identification in the Transgender section of GLAAD's Media Reference Guide.

For specific information about reporting on transgender victims of crime, see GLAAD's resource, Doubly Victimized: Reporting on Transgender Victims of Crime.

Organizations and Resources

International Transgender Day of Remembrance:
www.tdor.info

National Center for Transgender Equality:
www.transequality.org

Sylvia Rivera Law Project:
www.srlp.org

Trans Women of Color Collective:
www.twocc.us

Transgender Europe's Trans Murder Monitoring Project:
www.transrespect.org/en/research/trans-murder-monitoring/ 

Transgender Law Center:
http://transgenderlawcenter.org

TransJustice at the Audre Lorde Project:
www.alp.org/transjustice/

For more organizations and resources, please see our Transgender Resources page.

Reports on Hate Violence and Discrimination

2014 Report on LGBTQ and HIV-Affected Have Violence (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs)

Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (National LGBTQ Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality)

more publications

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