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GLAAD

The importance of Trans Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2018

On November 20, transgender individuals and allies from across the world observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) to honor and remember those of us who have been victims of gender identity-based violence.

Since 2016, at least 65 individuals have been murdered because of their identity as transgender. The actual number is likely higher, as transgender murder victims are often misgendered and deadnamed in autopsy reports and obituaries. An overwhelming percentage of those murdered are people of color. In 2018 alone, at least 19 trans women of color have been murdered.

These numbers sound shocking to anyone not familiar with this issue. However, as a trans individual, I can attest that these statistics are real. I am privileged within the trans community. I am white, I belong to a middle class family, I can afford a college education and I am trans-masculine.

Even with my economic and white privilege, I have survived over half a dozen instances of physical or sexual violence because of my trans identity. I deal with discrimination in housing, at work, and in the classroom every day. This should tell you how serious the rates of violence are against our community and against trans women of color.

What You Can Do on Your Campus

At my own school, the University of Oklahoma, we recognize TDOR every year by holding a candlelight vigil. This is a beautiful and powerful way to honor those that we have lost to horrific, targeted violence.

Inviting guest speakers is another way to honor victims and educate the public about the staggering rates of violence that trans people face on a daily basis. Reach out to your state ACLU office, trans activists and scholars as well as other trans-centered non-profit organizations. This will educate the public on our community issues while also teaching trans and gender variant youth how to mobilize on the ground.

Beyond Trans Day of Remembrance

Just one evening of observation is not enough to bring an end to violence against trans and gender-variant peoples. Community members and allies have to advocate and organize year-round to bring about change.

Political rallies, like the one I organized at the Oklahoma State Capitol earlier this month, are an excellent way to get politicians to listen to the transgender community while also further educating our allies on trans issues.

Campus and community organizations are another way to extend activism beyond TDOR. Forming a queer student or trans liberation association can help attract more people while also creating an official space for action.

Visibility is important, but it is not the same as liberation. We must organize and mobilize outside of trans week of visibility. Our survival is a year-round endeavor, so our activism should be, too.

Sawyer Stephenson is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and junior at the University of Oklahoma studying LGBTQ+ studies. Currently, they are the senior editor at Her Campus OU. Sawyer’s personal advocacy includes sexual assault victim’s rights and justice, sex positivity, mental health, and trans rights. Upon graduation, they hope to attend law school and serve a career as a civil rights lawyer.

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