Transgender Day of Remembrance is November 20th
By Nix Chace
Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is held on November each year to memorialize trans people who lost their lives due to hate crimes, prejudice, and cases of suicide. The event is held in November due to the death of Rita Hester in 1998, whose murder ignited the “Remembering Our Dead” web project, and vigil in San Francisco in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder, and many other cases like hers, has not been solved.
TDOR is a day that provides a space for the trans community and allies to raise awareness, pay respects to those whose lives have been lost, and create a space for action. While many in the LGBTQI community face many hardships, trans people of color especially trans women of color are the most affected by anti trans violence. People of color especially trans women of color and non-binary feminine presenting people, are disproportionately often the victims of violence and transphobia. This event is working to acknowledge that truth and create a safer space where no one is left out of the conversation.
This event provides the open space to acknowledge, speak about and help prevent the violence that trans people face specifically towards the police, the media, and elected officials, so that those affected and other members of the community may better understand the many dangers trans people encounter.
To honor Trans Day of Remembrance in Olympia, there will be a candlelight vigil held on November 20 in Sylvester park at 5 p.m. The event is hosted by TRANS* AID, a fundraising group to generate funds, expand awareness, and support LGBTQI+ organizations.
TRANS* AID’s organization was created by local Olympia activist, Debra Grace Peri who is also one of the organizers of this year’s TDOR event. The facebook description says “This project is purposely focused on transgender and queer people of color, their struggle, their voice.” This project is in association with other Olympia organizations such as Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights (POWER), Evergreen’s T*REX, and SAGE.
The facebook event page for the Sylvester park event states, “On this day we remember those of the transgender community who have succumb to the violence of this world either by murder or by suicide. We gather on this day to honor the dead, centered on transgender voices and experiences and to give thanks for the love and the family we have in each other.”
The vigil at Sylvester park will include lighting candles and reading the names of those who have been murdered this year. After the reading, music, art and spoken word poetry by transgender artists will be held at the Urban Onion. Talent is currently being recruited for the gathering at the Urban Onion.
“We are honoring all those whose lives were lost to transphobia. We are interested in increasing awareness too, about how those whose Trans-ness intersects with femininity and being a Person Of Color, suffer disproportionate targeting. This demonstrates how oppression is cumulative and we must tie the movement to liberate All Trans folks, to anti-racism, feminism, and more- to truly achieve Liberation. We leave no person behind.” An organizer of the event, and local Olympia author, Talcott Broadhead, says on the purpose of this event.
“When we stand together we can make significant positive change” says organizer, Debra Peri on the importance of this event.
A march to the Artesian Well, originally part of this event, has been cancelled due to weather complications, and keeping those with accessibility needs in mind. “Remember the dead. Fight like hell for the living” states the flier for the vigil at Sylvester Park.
Any are welcome to pay their respects, and mourn the loss of transgender lives that have been lost at the vigil at Sylvester park. It is with solidarity with communities of color, and with acknowledgement of the different oppression people face that this event occurs.
This vigil will be the only one in downtown Olympia. The Transgender Advocacy Group (TAG), and Partners in Prevention Education (PiPE) previously had a separate event made for another vigil at City Hall. However, the event is now cancelled due to community conflict against the event as it had to do with negotiating with the Olympia Police Department. The vigil at Sylvester park has no relation to this event.
The vigil at City Hall would have included several trans speakers, and a memorial slideshow. It was the new policies that TAG and the Olympia Police have worked together to produce which sparked controversy within the trans community as the police have been murdering transgender people, namely trans women of color at an alarming rate in this country. Many local transgender community members vocalized discomfort with this kind of event and believe working with the police on this issue is incredibly disrespectful to those who have been murdered at the hands of the police, Especially on a day where those who have died due to police violence are to be acknowledged and respected.