On every November 20, since 1999, transgender lives lost to violence that year have been observed and mourned through an observance called Trans Day of Remembrance. The first Trans Day of Remembrance was a vigil started by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1999 to honor Rita Hester, who was a trans woman that was murdered in 1998. Says Smith:
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 (GLAAD).
Trans people are very often the victims of bigoted, violent attacks and murder; trans women of color are the highest targeted of all trans individuals. Trans Day of Remembrance is observed through vigils hosted by LGBTQ+ activists throughout the country. These vigils usually involve the reading of names of trans individuals who have been murdered that year, as well as learning about violence against the trans community.
While Trans Day of Visibility, observed in March every year, celebrates trans lives, Trans Day of Remembrance allows the trans community, the larger LGBTQ+ community, and the loved ones of the trans victims of violence to honor their lives. The reason for this observance is heavy, but it a truth that us in the trans community contend with frequently, especially when the LGBTQ+ panic defense is still used in court in over half of the United States.
To further observe Trans Day of Remembrance, below is a list of nonfiction books written by and about transgender people that I highly recommend.
- Transgender History by Susan Stryker
- Gender Euphoria edited by Laura Kate Dale
- The Real Lives of Transgender and Nonbinary Humans as told to Brandi Lai
- Trans Love: An Anthology of Transgender and Non-Binary Voices edited by Freiya Benson
- There Are Trans People Here by H. Melt