Monday, November 16, 2009

Why Do We Need Transgender Day Of Remembrance? Well…

TransGriot Note: My latest post for Global Comment

If you’ve been perusing my home blog and other transgender-themed blogs across the Internet recently, you may have noticed the TDOR acronym pop up, and wondered what it means.

TDOR stands for the Transgender Day of Remembrance. For the last eleven years, every November 20 we memorialize and call attention to the people we’ve lost due to anti-transgender hatred and prejudice.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance began in the wake of the November 28, 1998 murder of African-American transwoman Rita Hester of Boston, MA. Rita’s murder was the impetus for San Francisco based activist Gwen Smith to begin the Remembering Our Dead web project and organize a vigil in San Francisco on the one year anniversary of Rita’s murder.

The 1999 San Francisco vigil quickly morphed into an event that was observed on November 20 in various locations around the world. This year in addition to TDOR events taking place in numerous locales across the United States and Canada, TDOR events will take place in Australia, England, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, The Philippines, The Netherlands, Norway, Scotland and Sweden.

The Remembering Our Dead Web Project not only compiles the names of people from around the world who have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence, it keeps statistics as well.

There are non-transgender people on the list such as Nashville’s Willie Houston. He was murdered in 2002, because the shooter considered him gay after seeing him hold his fiancé’s purse. This resulted in a verbal parking lot altercation near the General Jackson steamboat that tragically ended in death.

Pfc. Barry Winchell is another non transgender person on the list. In the early morning hours of July 5, 1999 the Fort Campbell, KY was killed because he was dating a trans woman, Calpernia Addams. That story is told in the movie “Soldier’s Girl.”

At this year’s TDOR ceremony we’ll be adding Michael Hunt’s name. He was murdered along with his transgender girlfriend, Taysia Elzy

The core part of any TDOR service is reading the list of names of people we lost from the time after we held the previous year’s event to the current one. As that list of names is read, a candle is lit in remembrance of that person.

Sadly, according to Ethan St. Pierre – who compiles the statistics and in 1995 lost his aunt Debra Forte to anti transgender violence – we will be lighting candles for 117 people. One of the other glaring statistics that Ethan points out is that 70% of the Remembering Our Dead list is made up of trans people of color, and that pattern sadly continues with the people we are memorializing for 2009.

Read the rest here.

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