Transgender Day of Remembrance

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Transgender Day of Remembrance
Transgender Pride Flag (32097587768).jpg
A Transgender Pride flag on the British Foreign Office, 2018
Observed byTransgender community and supporters
DateNovember 20
First time1999; 21 years ago (1999)
Related toTransgender Awareness Week, International Transgender Day of Visibility

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), also known as the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, has been observed annually (from its inception) on November 20 as a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.[1][2] It is a day to draw attention to the continued violence endured by transgender people.[3]

Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman,[4] to memorialize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts.[5] It has slowly evolved from the web-based project started by Smith into an international day of action. In 2010, TDoR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries.[6]

Typically, a TDoR memorial includes a reading of the names of those who lost their lives from November 20 of the former year to November 20 of the current year,[7] and may include other actions, such as candlelight vigils, dedicated church services, marches, art shows, food drives and film screenings.[8] GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has extensively covered TDoR. GLAAD has interviewed numerous transgender advocates (including actress Candis Cayne),[9] profiled an event at the New York City LGBT Community Center, and discussed media coverage of TDoR.


Rita Hester (November 30, 1963 – November 28, 1998) was a transgender African American woman who was murdered in Allston, Massachusetts on November 28, 1998.[10] In response to her murder, an outpouring of grief and anger led to a candlelight vigil held the following Friday (December 4) in which about 250 people participated. The community struggle to see Rita's life and identity covered respectfully by local papers, including the Boston Herald and Bay Windows, was chronicled by Nancy Nangeroni.[11] Her death inspired the "Remembering Our Dead" web project and the Transgender Day of Remembrance.[12]

Race, TDoR, and Transgender Women of Color[edit]

CeCe McDonald speaks at the 2015 Transgender Day of Remembrance in San Francisco.

While TDoR is a critical event, scholars and activists committed to advancing intersectional approaches to trans politics continue to highlight the importance of seeing transphobic violence as inherently connected to race, gender, and class. This is reflected in the disproportionate instances of violence against trans women of color in general, black and Latina transgender women in particular.[13][14][15]

Theorists C. Riley Snorton and Jin Haritaworn critique how images and narratives centering on the deaths of trans people of color—most often transfeminine bodies of color—are circulated within social movements and spaces headed by white gay and trans activists, such as TDoR.[16] Reflecting on the case of African American trans woman Tyra Hunter, Snorton and Haritaworn observe the dangers of positioning trans women and transfeminine bodies of color as legible only in the aftermath of their deaths, and failing to see such violence as effects of both systematic transphobia and racism. Resonating alongside (but not limited to) trans activists CeCe McDonald, Reina Gossett, Sylvia Rivera, and Dean Spade, Snorton and Haritaworn's work advocates for the importance of an intersectional approach to events such as TDoR and transgender activism in general.[citation needed]

Scholar Sarah Lamble (2008) argues that TDoR's focus on a collective mourning risks producing the white spectator as innocent of, rather than complicit in, the violence that produces the deaths of trans women of color they are mourning. Lamble states that: "Our task then is to push these further—not only with respect to TDOR but also in the many ways we recount and confront violence. None of us are innocent. We must envision practices of remembrance that situate our own positions within structures of power that authorize violence in the first place. Our task is to move from sympathy to responsibility, from complicity to reflexivity, from witnessing to action. It is not enough to simply honor the memory of the dead—we must transform the practices of the living".[17]

Transgender activist Mirha-Soleil Ross criticizes TDoR for conflating the motivation behind the murders of transgender women sex workers. In an interview with scholar Viviane Namaste, she presents examples of transgender sex workers who were murdered in Toronto for being sex workers and accuses the organizers of TDoR of using these women who died for being sex workers as martyrs of the transgender community.[18]

Recognition by governments[edit]

The Canadian province of Ontario unanimously passed the Trans Day of Remembrance Act, 2017 on December 12, 2017, officially recognizing TDoR and requiring the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to hold a moment of silence every year on November 20.[19][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Trans Day of Remembrance". Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. 2013. Archived from the original on August 14, 2010. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
  2. ^ "Transgender Day of Remembrance". Human Rights Campaign. Archived from the original on November 26, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
  3. ^ Millen, Lainey (November 20, 2008). "North Carolinians mark Transgender Remembrance Day". QNotes. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  4. ^ Smith, G. "Biography". Archived from the original on April 24, 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
  5. ^ Jacobs, Ethan (November 15, 2008). "Remembering Rita Hester". EDGE Boston. Archived from the original on October 8, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  6. ^ St. Pierre, E. (2010). TDoR Events and Locations 2010.
  7. ^ *"St. Louis Observes Transgender Day of Remembrance". Vital Voice. 2012. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013.
  8. ^ Gonzalez, Yvonne (November 18, 2010). "Groups recognize transgender remembrance day". The State Press. Archived from the original on November 22, 2010.
  9. ^ "Exclusive Video: Candis Cayne Discusses Being Out as Transgender in Hollywood". GLAAD. November 20, 2009. Archived from the original on August 4, 2011. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  10. ^ 'Remembering Rita Hester' Archived November 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine November 15, 2008, Edge Boston
  11. ^ Nancy Nangeroni (February 1, 1999). "Rita Hester's Murder and the Language of Respect". Archived from the original on August 24, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  12. ^ Irene Monroe (November 19, 2010). "Remembering Trans Heroine Rita Hester". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on November 16, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
  13. ^ National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2014" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on July 5, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  14. ^ "Black Trans* Women's Lives Matter". Archived from the original on January 14, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  15. ^ Vincent, Addison Rose (August 13, 2015). "State of Emergency Continues for Trans Women of Color". Archived from the original on March 24, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2016 – via Huffington Post.
  16. ^ C. Riley Snorton and Jin Haritaworn (2013). Trans necropolitics: A transnational reflection on violence, death, and the trans of color afterlife. The Transgender Studies Reader 2: New York: Routledge Press. pp. 66–76. Archived from the original on February 27, 2019. Retrieved February 10, 2018.CS1 maint: location (link)
  17. ^ Lamble, Sarah (2008). "Retelling racialized violence, remaking white innocence: The politics of interlocking oppressions in Transgender Day of Remembrance". Sexuality Research and Social Policy. Archived from the original on July 7, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  18. ^ Namaste, Viviane (2011). Sex Change, Social Change. Women's Press. ISBN 9780889614833.
  19. ^ "Ontario enshrines Trans Day of Remembrance in law as Nov. 20". CP24. The Canadian Press. December 12, 2017. Archived from the original on December 22, 2017. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  20. ^ "Trans Day of Remembrance Act, 2017". S.O. 2017, c. 29, Act of December 14, 2017. Archived from the original on December 22, 2017. Retrieved December 21, 2017.

External links[edit]