Resources for Media Covering Transgender Awareness Week

November 16, 2021

What is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) and Transgender Awareness Week? A Brief History: 

On November 20, 1999, transgender activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), inspired by the brutal murder of Rita Hester, a Black trans women, one year prior in 1998, whose death echoed across the country. The commemoration is observed annually on November 20th and memorializes transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary people who have been killed by violence. Transgender Day of Remembrance also highlights the continued need for changes in state and federal laws to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and stop the ongoing violence endured especially by transgender and gender nonconforming people.

Barack Obama was the first U.S. President to honor Transgender Day of Remembrance in 2012, with two dozen transgender advocates meeting at the White House led by a moment of silence in honor of trans victims of violence. The White House then posted a blog post to encourage all Americans to participate in Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Last year, President-elect Biden tweeted his support for the community on Transgender Day of Remembrance: 

Upon taking office, the Biden administration immediately began implementing policies to protect trans people, including an executive order Biden issued on the first day of his presidency to expand discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

GLAAD is monitoring the Biden administration’s efforts for LGBTQ Americans in its Biden Accountability Tracker.

News Media’s Role

Transgender Day of Remembrance is an acknowledgement of the lives lost and a reminder of what can be done to protect trans and gender nonconforming people. Transgender Awareness Week is also held annually, November 13-19, leading up to the day of remembrance.

GLAAD calls on media outlets to uplift the stories of trans and gender nonconforming people during Transgender Awareness Week to show how they are living with joy and purpose, are determined to be seen and have their full humanity recognized, and have a right to participate in and contribute to society in safety and acceptance.

GLAAD can connect reporters to transgender people and advocates to include in your coverage of Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance.

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News about Transgender People and Issues in 2021:

  • GLAAD’s new Accelerating Acceptance report shows Americans' growing awareness that there are more than two genders, and a growing understanding that transgender and nonbinary people will become as familiar to them as gay, lesbian and bisexual people have become.
  • On November 16, 2021, the International Olympic Committee announced a groundbreaking new framework to include transgender athletes at every level of sports. The framework offers guidance to sports bodies on how to draft and implement eligibility criteria which upholds the right of all athletes – regardless of gender identity, expression and/or sex variations – to participate in sport free from discrimination. The guidelines, which can be read here, include 10 guiding principles to welcome all athletes, centered on the values of inclusion, prevention of harm and non-discrimination. The guidelines were created after extensive consultation with athletes, medical and legal experts, international federations, and athletic and human rights associations. The IOC statement says no athlete should be excluded from competition based on “unverified, alleged, or perceived unfair competition advantage.”

  • The Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo featured a record number of out LGBTQ athletes, including the first out transgender athletes to compete in the nearly 20 years since Olympic policy formalized their inclusion. Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand did not advance past her opening round; soccer star Quinn became the out first trans and nonbinary athlete to win an Olympic medal, when Team Canada won gold.

  • An Ongoing Epidemic of Violence and Misinformation: At least 46 transgender and gender nonconforming people have been murdered in 2021, and coverage of their deaths is often either underreported or misreported in the media. 25-year-old Mel Groves, a Black transgender man killed in Jackson, Mississippi, last month, was misgendered in early police and media reports. 21-year-old Kiér Laprí Kartier was shot and killed in Arlington, Texas, in September; her death was made public in an inaccurate police report which misgendered her and was repeated by local media. The majority of transgender and gender nonconforming victims have been Black and Latinx transgender women.
  • A Record Year of Anti-Transgender Legislation: at least 121 anti-transgender bills were introduced around the country targeting transgender people and youth, including their access to healthcare. In October, Texas became the tenth state to pass a law banning transgender children as young as Kindergarten age from playing school sports consistent with their gender. Every major medical group supports trans youth access to sports and to gender affirming care as safe, effective and lifesaving. Dozens of lawmakers could not cite an instance of trans inclusion being an issue in their states. The bills were proposed with support from anti-LGBTQ activist groups making false claims in legal filings.
  • The Equality Act passed the U.S. House with bipartisan support in February, and is awaiting action in the U.S. Senate. Following the House vote to pass the Equality Act,  GLAAD monitored a wave of unchallenged rhetoric about transgender Americans from anti-LGBTQ lawmakers in stories that didn’t quote a single transgender person. The Equality Act would provide comprehensive protections against discrimination for every LGBTQ American and expand protections for women, people of color and people of faith, in education, employment, housing, access to credit, jury service and public accommodation. The majority of LGBTQ Americans live in states without such protections. A majority of Americans of all faiths, backgrounds and political parties support laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.
  • Highlights on Pro-LGBTQ Legislation: While 2021 saw a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills enacted, more than 50 pro-LGBTQ nondiscrimination bills were also proposed across the country, according to Freedom for All Americans. In North Carolina, at least 15 cities and counties have passed nondiscrimination ordinances, a dramatic turnaround for LGBTQ support after the state’s infamous HB2, passed in 2015 and revised after a nationwide outcry and economic fallout.
  • In July 2021, The U.S. Census began surveying Americans for their sexual orientation and gender identity - a first. Getting an accurate count of the LGBTQ population is critical to understanding who LGBTQ people are, where they live, and how government resources will be distributed. The first data returned showed 24.6% of LGBT respondents were 18-24 year old, compared to 7.3% of non-LGBT respondents. LGBTQ respondents were more likely to experience economic and mental health hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • U.S. State Department issues first gender-neutral passport: In October, the State Department announced it had issued the first passport with an X gender designation, a milestone for transgender, nonbinary and intersex Americans. The designation will be offered to all routine passport applicants in early 2022 once the required system and form updates are complete.
  • Transgender people continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. The CDC reported this year that 4 in 10 transgender women have HIV, and need “more prevention and treatment services,” according to the report. Another CDC report showed Black transgender men and women are especially at risk; in 2018, 40% of trans men diagnosed with HIV were Black, and 49% of trans women diagnosed were Black.
  • GLAAD’s 2021 State of HIV Stigma found that less than half of Americans (48%) feel knowledgeable about HIV, down three points from one year ago. 58% did not know that HIV can be treated to the point of being undetectable and thus untransmittable (U=U). Violence, stigma and discrimination in accessing healthcare increase transgender women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.
  • A record number of LGBTQ candidates ran for office in 2021’s off-year election, including an increase in transgender candidates and a 260% increase in nonbinary and genderqueer candidates. Many of those candidates won their elections, demonstrating that voters are increasingly comfortable electing transgender and nonbinary leaders. The November election saw several “first” victories; from the first nonbinary judge in the U.S. to Ohio’s first transgender official and the reelection of Danica Roem.

Guidance for Covering the Transgender Community:

  • Interview trans and gender nonconforming people in all areas of coverage, including and especially in stories about their lives.
  • Ask interview subjects for their pronouns and include them in your stories. Some people also use more than one set of pronouns (example: he/they), in which case it is appropriate to use both or either in a story.
  • Ask people how they identify. Most transgender people are female or male, but some trans people also identity as nonbinary or genderqueer, and some nonbinary people are also trans. 
  • Include voices of trans people from diverse backgrounds including different races, gender expressions, people with disabilities, and more, to ensure coverage isn’t focused solely on white non-disabled transgender women, who are frequently quoted in the media when it comes to trans coverage. 
  • Do not quote subjects who misgender or deadname a trans person, whether it’s family, friends, a police report, or a cycled news story. Replace the name in brackets with the correct information. Media should pause before repeating information provided from law enforcement or a coroner’s report involving a transgender person, to confirm authentic names and pronouns. The person’s social media profile can often offer sources for the media to connect with who knew the person best.
  • Unless the coverage is focused on a trans matter, or the subject of a story requests,  there is no need to identify expert sources or subjects of stories  as transgender. 
  • Hire and promote trans reporters, editors, and other leaders in your newsroom, to better reflect the community your outlet serves, and offer fresh perspectives and stories. 

GLAAD Resources for Covering Transgender People 

Transgender Advocates Fighting for Their Communities 

Carter Brown (he/him)

Brown is a Black transgender man who founded Black Transmen, Inc. in Dallas to advocate for the empowerment of transgender people through community building and organizing to address the disparities faced by Black trans people. The organization later gave rise to the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition. Under Brown's leadership, the coalition launched a program in April that provides grants to Black trans people who need emergency funds for food, utilities, rent assistance, health care, transportation and other necessities during the pandemic. The group has raised $10,000 for the program thus far, and hopes to raise $20,000 more. The Black Trans Advocacy Coalition is funded in part by the Gilead Compass Initiative, which collaborates with local advocates in the U.S. South to meet the needs of people living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS. Brown has also testified before Congress in support of the Equality Act.

Jasmine Davis (she/her)

Davis is a Black transgender advocate and community health organizer who has focused on efforts in HIV prevention, health care, and transgender advocacy in her hometown of New Orleans. In 2021, Davis was nominated by GLAAD for Good Morning America’s Inspiration List 2021

Kayla Gore (she/her)

Gore is a 33-year-old Black trans woman, who like many Black trans people, has experienced homelessness and poverty. Gore co-founded My Sistah’s House, a grassroots organization funded in part by the Gilead Compass Initiative to support local groups helping their communities fight HIV. My Sistah’s House provides emergency housing for transgender and gender-nonconforming people, particularly Black, Indigenous, and Trans People of Color, in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Gavin Grimm (he/him)

In June after a six year legal battle, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the Virginia school board that tried to reinstate a ban against Grimm and other transgender students from using the restroom that aligns with their gender identity. 

Grimm was a 15-year-old student at Gloucester High School when he filed a federal lawsuit against the Virginia School Board after being barred from using the boys bathroom, consistent with his gender identity. 

“I was barred from the bathroom at my high school 7 years ago when I was 15,” Grimm tweeted about the victory. “Twice since I have enjoyed victories in court, and now it’s over. We won.” 

In an interview with them, Grimm said he found it “enraging” how many years he had to spend in court. “It’s like I wasn't there at all. I can’t have closure when the kids aren’t safe.” 

Thu Nguyen (they/them)

2022 will see an unprecedented amount of LGBTQ people elected to and serving in public office, with more than 1,000 out officials for the first time in history. Thu Nguyen was elected to the Worcester City Council this month, becoming the first out nonbinary candidate elected to office in Massachusetts. Nguyen will also be the first Southeast Asian American elected to office in Worcester, and said they hope their win “will motivate others from underrepresented groups to run for office.”

"That was one of my pushes, is that people who often feel marginalized or, you know, not having access to the government or imagining themselves at these seats, to actually start doing that," Nguyen said in an interview with WBUR’s Morning Edition. "Because that's how we make shifts. Before you can get to a seat, you have to imagine yourself there."

Nguyen has said of their win, that they did not run as “the nonbinary candidate” but rather “a candidate who happens to be nonbinary.” 

One of Nguyen’s main focuses is on housing security, telling the outlet that “we have a housing crisis” that they think needs to be tackled “in a way that really sets [Worcester] up for the next few decades, and not just the next few years.”

Devin Michael Lowe (he/they)

Lowe, a trans activist, is the founder and CEO of the Black Trans Travel Fund, a grassroot organization that provides financial and material resources to Black trans women in the New York and New Jersey areas in an effort to provide safer travel options. 

Since 2020, Lowe has been the Community Media Organizer for Black Trans Media, which aims to curate social media posts and host online events that binds the Black trans community together through their contributions within the intersections of racial and gender equality. 

According to Black Trans Media, Lowe is invested in the liberation of Black and trans people from “the constraints of capitalism, white supremacy, and cis-hetero-patriarchy.”

He has a passion for moving resources to his community and is committed to helping to create a world where Black trans people are not just seen, but respected, protected, supported, and valued. 

Dion Manley (he/him)

Manley will become Ohio’s first-ever out transgender elected official, after winning a seat on the Gahanna Jefferson School Board on November 2nd. Manley will be one of five out trans men to hold public office in the U.S.

A native of California, Manley expanded his LGBTQ advocacy after moving to Ohio to “help bridge the gap between the LGBTQ community and the Heartland,” according to The Victory Fund

Manley’s election added to a history-making Election Day for Ohio, with 23 new and incumbent out LGBTQ+ candidates winning their respective races across the state – from city council to school board to the judge’s bench.

Morgan Sherm

Morgan Sherm is a former radio news producer who now works to ensure accuracy in the news media for transgender people in Chicago. Read here to see how she is helping the news media do more to accurately represent the community. Sherm is also urging new policies be implemented in law enforcement agencies and in legislation.


Contact GLAAD to reach any of these trans advocates and for any questions about transgender people and issues during Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Awareness, and beyond: