Today is the 11th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day when we remember those killed because of anti-transgender hate. The event was created in 1999 to memorialize Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed in San Francisco. Her case remains unsolved, as do so many murders of transgender people, who face extremely high rates of discrimination and violence. TDOR has a partial list of those we remember today. In the past year, we have seen the convictions of the killers of Lateisha Green and Angie Zapata, and the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Act, the first major piece of federal legislation extending legal protections to LGBT people; yet there is much more work to do.
As we look back and honor the dead, we also acknowledge the importance of communities coming together to resist gender-based violence. Imelda Guerrero, the aunt of Gwen Araujo, a trangender woman killed by a group of young men in Newark, CA, told Not In Our Town how valuable it was for her family to receive community support in the wake of Gwen's death. "It was just kind of amazing the way that everybody helped us through it. It was almost like we had fallen down and we were being picked up by everybody," she said. "I think that if people feel touched by the story of [a hate crime victim] I encourage them to reach out to the family in whatever way you can. Write a letter. Send an email. Sometimes websites are set up for victims, where you can leave a message. We set up an online memorial site as a tribute to Gwen and received a lot of messages there." Tina d'Elia, former director of the Hate Violence Survivor program with Community United Against Violence, has some suggestions about how to support victims and their families.
Here are three things you can do today:
1. Attend a vigil or memorial service in your area; for a list of events across the US and around the world, please visit TDOR.org.
2. Let your transgender friends and family know that you love and support them.