Trans Day of Remembrance: A Vigil for the Slain

By Leela Ginelle, PQ Monthly

November 20 is Trans Day of Remembrance, a day commemorating all the trans people murdered during the previous year because of their gender identities.

Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a trans woman, to memorialize the murder of Rita Helster in Allston MA. The event has spread and grown since then, so that in 2010 ceremonies were held in 185 cities in 20 countries.

That the largest, longest running annual trans event is a yearly vigil can be a grim reminder of the still precarious circumstances faced by the trans community. Even in a year filled with warm receptions for trans celebrities like Laverne Cox and Laura Jane Grace, and numerous legal victories around trans health care, stories of murdered trans women still abounded, such as the five trans women of color killed in 41 days the spring, or the recent murder of Jennifer Laude in the Philippines for which a US Marine has been charged.

TDOR events, which typically feature readings of all the slain trans people’s names from the previous year are incredibly powerful and cathartic, as they offer trans people and their allies the rare chance to openly face and grieve the danger and hatred that still surrounds their identities. Ceremonies are often hosted and supported by spiritual communities.

Lists for those murdered in transphobic hate crimes can be found in various places online.

The Portland/Vancouver area will be host to multiple TDOR events this year:

Sun. Nov. 16th 4:00pm First Congregational Church of Christ Vancouver, organized by the Northwest Gender Alliance

Thur. Nov. 20th 7:00pm PCC Cascade Moriarty Arts & Humanities Bldg. Auditorium, organized by the Northwest Gender Alliance

Thur. Nov. 20th PSU Queer Resource Center, Time and Location TBD. (503) 725-9742.