Transgender Day of Remembrance

Posted in : Blog
Posted on : November 20, 2018

MacKenzie Pudwell

November 20 is a significant day for the trans community, a day where the trans community is recognized for the unfair hardships and treatment they endured, continue to endure. This day is to remember the lives lost from acts of anti-transgender violence around the world.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is an opportunity for communities to come together and remember transgender people, gender-variant individuals, and those perceived to be transgender who have been murdered because of hate.” (HRC, 2018)

Transgender Day of Remembrance started as a vigil in 1999 to commemorate the death of Rita Hester, a transgender woman killed in 1998. Rita Hester was a vocal and highly visible member of the transgender community in Boston, Massachusetts as she worked to educate her local community on transgender issues. Hester was found stabbed 20 times in her apartment and passed away in the hospital, her case is still unresolved 20 years later. Her violent death pushed the trans community to further push for their voices to be heard and brought light to a horrific trend occurring all over the world. In response to this tragic death and the continued violence and alienation of the transgender community, Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded Transgender Day of Remembrance that started as a vigil and online Remember the Dead project that transformed into an international day of commemoration and support for those lost and to support the eradication of transphobia.

But why is this date important? Why are we commemorating an event that occurred in 1998, when it is 2018 and LGBTQ+ rights have come so far?

Because In 2017 there were at least 29 deaths of transgender people in the United States, the Trans Murder Monitoring Project reported 325 killings worldwide and one of which was in Canada. Even though Canada’s rates are relatively low, one is too many and violence against trans Canadians is still a harsh reality on this side of the border. According to Egale’s 2017 stats:

  • 78% of trans students felt unsafe at school, with 44% having missed school because of these feelings;
  • 74% of trans students have been verbally harassed because of their gender expression;
  • 49% of trans students have been sexually harassed in school within the past year; and
  • 37% of trans students have been physically harassed or assaulted because of their gender expression. (Trust, 2017)

This day of remembrance is internationally-recognized and is often run on a local basis by trans communities, volunteers and community-based organizations. This event is essential because it is being used as a vehicle to change public opinion on the transgender community. November 20 is an integral part in creating true acceptance for the transgender community in main stream society, acknowledging the injustices this community has endured, and fights back against anti-transgender violence. Show your solidarity and support of the trans community on November 20.

To learn more about anti-transgender violence and the Transgender Day of Remembrance, please visit the following websites:

To learn more about the political developments for LGBTQ+ inclusion in Canada, please visit the following website:

To learn more about how CCDI can help develop your organizations’ LGBTQ+ inclusivity strategy, please visit the following website:

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