Observing the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Friday

This Friday, November 20th, is the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), an annual observance that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The first vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year, and began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. Smith has said the following about the day:

"The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. 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."

This year, the Transgender Day of Remembrance carries particular weight, as we are currently in a state of emergency for transgender people. At least 21 transgender people have been murdered in the U.S. this year alone, which has already surpassed the 14 murders reported in the U.S. in the entirety of 2014. (To see the most recent victims, read these Advocate articles about Kiesha Jenkins and Zella Ziona.) Nearly all of the victims are transgender women of color. Globally, more than 200 murders of transgender people have been reported this year.

You can participate in the Transgender Day of Remembrance by attending or organizing a vigil on November 20 to honor all those whose lives were lost to anti-transgender violence that year.  Vigils are typically hosted by local transgender advocates or LGBT organizations, and held at community centers, parks, places of worship and other venues. The vigil often involves reading a list of the names of those who died this year. A list of vigils by location can be found here. GLAAD will be attending vigils in New York and Los Angeles. GLAAD has also created a resource for journalists and outlets covering the Transgender Day of Remembrance.