International Transgender Day of Remembrance

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 to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.[1][2] The day was founded to draw attention to the continued violence directed toward transgender people.[3]

Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by a small group, including Gwendolyn Ann Smith,[4] Nancy Nangeroni, and Jahaira DeAlto,[5] to memorialize the murders of Black transgender women Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts,[6] and Chanelle Pickett in Watertown, Massachusetts.[7][8] After Hester's death in 1998, Smith was surprised to realize that none of her friends remembered Pickett or her murder three years prior, saying "It really surprised me that it had already, in a short period of time, been forgotten, and here we were with another murder at the same site.”[8][9] The first TDoR took place in November 1999 in Boston and San Francisco, as both Hester and Pickett's deaths occurred in November.[8][10] TDoR continued to be observed annually on November 20, the anniversary of Pickett's murder.[8] In 2010, TDoR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries.[11]

Typically, a TDoR memorial includes a reading of the names of those who died from October 1 of the former year to September 30th of the current year,[12][13] and may include other actions, such as candlelight vigils, dedicated church services, marches, art shows, food drives, and film screenings.[14] GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has extensively covered TDoR, interviewed numerous transgender advocates (including actress Candis Cayne),[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] Her death inspired the "Remembering Our Dead" web project and the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR).[18]

Chanelle Pickett (1972-1995) was a Black trans woman who was murdered in Watertown, Massachusetts on November 20, 1995.[7] Her death inspired many actions, including several vigils and the creation of a group dedicated to preventing violence against trans people, called "Remember Chanelle" which was formed on December 18, 1995.[19][20] Similar to Rita Hester's murder, Chanelle Pickett's murder was chronicled by Nancy Nangeroni[7] and also inspired the "Remembering Our Dead" web project and Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR).[8][9][10]

Monique Thomas (March 30, 1963 – September 1998) was a Black trans woman murdered at her home in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Her murder was discussed alongside the murders of Rita Hester and Chanelle Pickett in “Remembering Our Dead,” a web project[21] that led to the creation of International Transgender Day of Remembrance.[22] Although Monique's death was not mentioned often during the initial creation of the day, she is now frequently mentioned in articles that discuss the ongoing impact and observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance. [23] [24]


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

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.[25][26][27]

The transgender pride flag being raised above the California State Capitol on the Transgender Day of Remembrance in 2019.

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.[28] 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 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.

— Lamble, 2008: Retelling racialized violence, remaking white innocence: The politics of interlocking oppressions in Transgender Day of Remembrance'[29]

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.[30]

Recognition by governments


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 minute of silence every year on November 20.[31][32]

United States

In 2020, US president-elect Joe Biden recognized the Transgender Day of Remembrance and said the transphobic violence experienced by trans women is intolerable.[33] In 2021, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris issued a statement saying, "At least 46 transgender Americans were killed by acts of fatal violence to date this year".[34][35][36][37] His office also issued a report outlining "How the Biden-Harris Administration Is Advancing Safety, Opportunity, and Inclusion for Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals."[38] Moreover, Biden called on the Senate to pass the Equality Act.[39]

Antony J. Blinken, United States Secretary of State, also issued a statement mourning the loss of trans lives in 2021.[40] As the chief American diplomat, he stated, "Promoting and protecting the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons is a foreign policy priority of this Administration."

On November 18, 2021, on the House floor, Representative Ayanna Pressley read the names of 46 trans people murdered that year.[34][41][42] Pressley was joined by other members of the Congressional [LGBTQ+] Equality Caucus that included Representatives Marie Newman, David N. Cicilline, Mark Takano, Sara Jacobs, and Al Green.[43]

See also


  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, Gwendolyn Ann (November 20, 2012). "Transgender Day of Remembrance: Why We Remember". HuffPost. Retrieved May 3, 2021. In 1999 a handful of transgender people sought to highlight the need for awareness around anti-transgender violence, which refers to attacks against people who are perceived as transgender – regardless of how one may personally identify. To that end, we held the first Transgender Day of Remembrance event in the Castro district of San Francisco, holding the names of those we'd lost in silent testimony.
  5. ^ Eagle, Amanda Burke, The Berkshire (May 3, 2021). "Jahaira DeAlto, unflinching advocate of marginalized, among victims of Boston slaying". The Berkshire Eagle. Retrieved February 7, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Jacobs, Ethan (November 15, 2008). "Remembering Rita Hester". EDGE Boston. Archived from the original on October 8, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c Nangeroni, Nancy (May 17, 1997). "The Chanelle Pickett Story by Nancy Nangeroni". GenderTalk & Gender Education & Media, Inc. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  8. ^ a b c d e Compton, Julie (November 16, 2017). ""We need to keep fighting," Transgender Day of Remembrance founder pleads #TDOR". NBC News. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Remembering Rita Hester, Who Changed What It Means to Remember Trans Lives". Them. March 31, 2022. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  10. ^ a b Sosin, Kate (July 15, 2020). "'Everybody knew Rita': Decades later, still no answers in slaying of Black trans woman". NBC News. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  11. ^ St. Pierre, E. (2010). TDoR Events and Locations 2010.
  12. ^ "St. Louis Observes Transgender Day of Remembrance". Vital Voice. 2012. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013.
  13. ^ "Transgender deaths commemorated at Brighton vigil". BBC News. November 21, 2010. Archived from the original on November 20, 2018. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  14. ^ Gonzalez, Yvonne (November 18, 2010). "Groups recognize transgender remembrance day". The State Press. Archived from the original on November 22, 2010.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ 'Remembering Rita Hester' Archived November 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine November 15, 2008, Edge Boston
  17. ^ Nangeroni, Nancy (February 1, 1999). "Rita Hester's Murder and the Language of Respect". GenderTalk. Archived from the original on August 24, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  18. ^ Irene Monroe (November 19, 2010). "Remembering Trans Heroine Rita Hester". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on November 16, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
  19. ^ "ACTIVISTS RESPOND TO TRANSEXUAL MURDERS". Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  20. ^ "Boston Mourns After Transsexual Murder." FTM International, no. 35, Autumn 1996, p.15.
  21. ^ "Monique Thomas". Remembering Our Dead. Retrieved April 20, 2023.
  22. ^ Walters, Quincy (November 20, 2019). "Remembering Rita: The 20th Transgender Day Of Remembrance Is Painfully Personal For Boston". WBUR. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  23. ^ Monroe, Irene (November 20, 2022). "On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, commemorate Rita Hester: Her life mattered". Cambridge Day. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  24. ^ "Remembering Rita: The 20th Transgender Day Of Remembrance Is Painfully Personal For Boston". WBUR. November 20, 2019. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ "Black Trans* Women's Lives Matter". Archived from the original on January 14, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  27. ^ Vincent, Addison Rose (August 13, 2015). "State of Emergency Continues for Trans Women of Color". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on March 24, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  28. ^ 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.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  29. ^ Lamble, Sarah (2008). "Retelling racialized violence, remaking white innocence: The politics of interlocking oppressions in Transgender Day of Remembrance". Sexuality Research and Social Policy. 5: 24–42. doi:10.1525/srsp.2008.5.1.24. S2CID 7786376. Archived from the original on July 7, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  30. ^ Namaste, Viviane (2011). Sex Change, Social Change. Women's Press. ISBN 9780889614833.
  31. ^ "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.
  32. ^ Trans Day of Remembrance Act, 2017 (Act, S.O. 2017, c. 29). December 14, 2017. Archived from the original on December 22, 2017. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  33. ^ "Joe Biden on Instagram: "At least 37 transgender and gender-nonconforming people have been killed this year, most of them Black and Brown transgender women. It's intolerable. This Transgender Day of Remembrance, we honor their lives—and recommit to the work that remains to end this epidemic of violence. To transgender and gender-nonconforming people across America and around the world: From the moment I am sworn in as president, know that my administration will see you, listen to you, and fight for not only your safety but also the dignity and justice you have been denied."".
  34. ^ a b "2021 marks the deadliest year yet for transgender people in the U.S., advocacy group says". CBS News. November 20, 2021. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  35. ^ "Statement by President Biden on Transgender Day of Remembrance". November 20, 2021.
  36. ^ Biden-⁠Harris Administration Memorializes Transgender Day of Remembrance, NOVEMBER 20, 2021
  37. ^ Holmes, Juwan J. (November 20, 2021). "President Biden honors trans people lost to "horrifying" violence on Transgender Day of Remembrance". LGBTQ Nation.
  38. ^ "Memorializing Transgender Day of Remembrance" (PDF). November 20, 2021.
  39. ^ Judd, Donald (November 20, 2021). "Biden marks 'deadliest year on record for transgender Americans' on day of remembrance | CNN Politics". CNN.
  40. ^ "On Transgender Day of Remembrance".
  41. ^ "Squad Member Ayanna Pressley Read Names of 46 Killed Trans People in Speech". Newsweek. November 19, 2021.
  42. ^ Rep. Ayanna Pressley Honors Trans Remembrance Day on the Floor of Congress, Ayanna Pressley's YouTube Channel
  43. ^ "Transgender Day of Remembrance Special Order Hour - November 17th, 2021". November 18, 2021 – via YouTube.

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