Transgender Day of Remembrance


Transgender Day of Remembrance is an annual Memorial Day to honor and remember trans people who lost their lives due to anti-transgender hatred and violence. Every year, on November 20, activists worldwide carry out various activities such as candlelight vigils, dedicated church services, marches, art shows, film screenings etc., to memorialize trans people who were murdered due to transphobia. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of the ongoing violence experienced by trans people.

Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by trans advocate Gwendolyn Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a trans African American woman who was murdered in her apartment in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1998. The vigil was held to remember all the trans people who had died violent deaths since Rita Hester’s passing. In addition, Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

It is curious that Gwendolyn Smith started Transgender Day of Remembrance nearly 25 years ago after discovering similarities between the murders of black trans women Rita Hester and Chanelle Pickett. Both women had been found dead in Boston: Chanelle Pickett in November 1995 and Rita Hester in November 1998. “I knew the cases weren’t connected directly, but they were both African-American trans women, they were both in Massachusetts in Boston, they were both killed in mid-to-late November,” said Gwendolyn Smith in an NBC statement.

In the spring of 1999, Gwendolyn Smith and a group of 100 activists made a demonstration in San Francisco, after which Smith realized a day of remembrance was needed to memorialize the lives lost. That November, she organized the first Transgender Day of Remembrance, which took place in San Francisco and Boston.

To highlight the importance of commemorating lost lives, Gwendolyn Smith mentioned once in her speech: “Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”

So far, violence towards trans people continues to be a big issue. Each year there are many cases of violence or murder reported, and 2022 is not an exception. Worldwide, Trans Lives Matter has documented 390 reports of anti-transgender murders from October 2021 to September 2022. They recorded 107 reports in Brazil, 50 in Mexico, 29 in Colombia and many more in other countries.

When speaking about violence towards trans people, it is essential to mention that Armenia is one of the countries where trans people face violence regularly. Many cases of harassment, offenses and physical violence against trans people have been recorded during 2022. Crimes committed against trans people in Armenia continue to go unpunished. Every year, many cases of violence are being recorded, which are accompanied by a critical attitude of the society, on the one hand, and improper handling of criminal cases by law enforcement agencies, on the other hand, as a result of which, the number of crimes increases, and perpetrators remain unpunished.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual vigil for trans homicide victims, has helped to humanize trans people in the eyes of the media, police, and the general public. By publicly mourning and remembering the lives of trans people who might otherwise go unremembered, the Transgender Day of Remembrance increases awareness of hate crimes against trans people.