Trans Day of Remembrance and Resilience (TDOR) 20th November 2019


Gee Semmalar

Rita Hester, a black transgender woman was stabbed 20 times in her own apartment and later died at a hospital in Boston in 1998. The murderer who was alleged to be a cis, white male was never caught. The transgender day of remembrance emerged as an outpouring of grief and rage of black trans communities against the hate crimes and murders of trans people in general and black and Latino trans women in particular. November 20th came to be observed globally as Transgender Day of Remembrance in various countries.

Why it is important

Trans people compounded by our race, caste, religious and class locations routinely face disproportionate amounts of violence and hate crimes to this day.1 The violence continues even after death when we are misgendered in news reports about our death or dead named or buried according to rituals specific to a gender we rejected while we are alive.

TDOR is a day when we remember and memorialize the people we lost. TDOR is a day that we come together because nobody else remembers the people we lost, not even the families we were born into.

What can you do?

The NGO industrial complex, especially the non-trans led non-profits scramble at this time of the year to get the names of trans people murdered in the past year for their TDOR programmes. What can you do, as an ally to move beyond these tokenistic, performative solidarity gestures?

  • Push for employing trans people in your workplaces. Pass on freelance paid work to trans people.
  • Fight in your families for trans kids to be accepted and not disowned
  •  Pressurise the govt to pass and implement laws that actually empower trans people.
  • Push for cases to be registered when trans folks face sexual/physical/verbal/police/public/familial violence. Join protest actions. Pressurise local administrations to ensure justice.
  • Support housing projects for trans folks.
  • Call out transphobic jokes. Have a zero tolerance policy for trans misogyny.
  • Reach out to support trans folks in any way possible when we are depressed or need help.
  • Work on your own prejudices relentlessly. Educate yourselves and others on trans issues.
  •  Make healthcare accessible for us. Push for an anti-discrimination policy in your health centres/ hospitals /clinics
  • Lend spaces to trans people at subsidised rates/free for the purpose of shelter/creative arts practices/ running our independent collectives for social change.
  • If you are making a film on trans people, involve us in your script writing, enable us to decide how we are represented. Do not cast us as objects of ridicule or as mere victims.
  •  If you see a trans person being misgendered in media, write to the editors, tag the newspaper on social media, demand a rectification and public apology.
  •  If you see a trans person being harassed in public or private spaces, intervene. Don’t look away. Stop the harassment. Make sure you let the perpetrator and onlookers know it’s not okay
  • If you are a teacher, talk about trans issues in your class. Prescribe readings to sensitise your students. Have open discussions in class about non-normative genders and sexualities.
  • Support trans issues as a cis person. But be sure to step back from spaces that belong to trans folks who want to share experiences and strategies internally. Allyship is as much about stepping back as it is about stepping forward. Be self critical in your solidarity.
  • It doesn’t matter how long you have known a person or in what capacity. Always use the person’s chosen name and gender. Familiarity or a long term relationship is no excuse for dead naming or misgendering.
  • Do not place the burden of breaking the binary on trans folks are oppressed by it. Do not shame binarian trans expressions. The binary is often self-affirming and a place of safety from harassment for some trans people.
  • Accept gender diversity and expressions. Do not impose your notions of who is an “authentic” trans person based on physiological/medicalised pre-requisites or understandings.
  • Figure out more ways to keep us alive.

1. For further information please refer to the essay by Joao Gabriell, “In Defense of a Radical Trans Perspective in the French Context.” Decolonizing Sexualities eds. Bakshi, Jivraj and Posocco, Counterpress, 2016, pp. 60-70.