Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day to honor transgender people who were killed because of their transgender identity. The event began in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder in 1998 kicked off the Remembering Our Dead web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil.
The Trans Oral History Project debuted a video exploring violence against trans people, highlighting critical perspectives from trans community leaders who make the case for an emerging trans movement at the Center on Halsted‘s TDoR event. Watch it below:
In 2010, 44 percent of LGBT murder victims were transgender women, and 70 percent of LGBT murder victims were people of color, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Transgender people as a whole are only about 1 percent of the population. Among the transgender murder victims, 42 percent of them were engaged in sex work at the time of their murder.
PrettyQueer.com has some insightful critiques of the white washing of TDoR events, especially by white, upper middle class, college educated transgender men. Alyssa Caparas write on why she didn’t attend TDoR events in 2011:
I hate what TDoR has come to represent: a queer “holiday” for embracing the narrative of fear; fear of violence, fear of death, self-stigmatization. The co-opting of PoC trans women of a very-particular-background’s experiences as those of the ENTIRE trans community, regardless of race, class, or whatever. It’s a day to remind us all why we need to be afraid all the time and I think it’s a bunch of bullshit.
The large majority of people on the lists of the dead are NOT middle class white transwomen or men. They’re lower class PoC and PoC sex workers. I find it incredibly dissrespectful when white, middle and upper middle class trans people claim the narratives of trans women of color and sex workers experiencess as their own. I’m sick of seeing transbros at TDoR co-opting the narrative of trans women’s experiences, internalizing them and feeding those narratives back to everyone, then high-fiving each over how radical and edgey they are. I’m sick of being a trans woman at TDoR and feeling marginalized by all the gender hipsters who’re there to bump up their scene cred.
Jack Radish — a white, queer trans man — lends insight to privileging white transmasculine experiences at TDoR events as a person who shares those identities:
It doesn’t just bother me that the only trans woman on stage was an afterthought, disempowered and invited at the last minute because the organizers wanted to look inclusive. It doesn’t just bother me that at least one or two rad trans women probably showed up to the first planning meeting but were totally pushed out prior to the group having to find a token trans woman to appear on stage at the last minute. It doesn’t just bother me that the performers were white trans men in college, making no place in the organization for trans women of color sex workers, all while claiming trans women of color sex workers’ experiences as their own. It doesn’t just bother me that [white trans men] Aydyn and Jaydyn and Caydyn and Gaydyn have actually deluded themselves and really believe their sensationalized fantasy that they will be murdered for trying to go to the bathroom, in spite of the fact that, as a trans man who probably looks a lot like Aydyn and friends, I can say pretty confidently that that’s not something I’ve ever worried about in real life. It doesn’t just bother me that these guys have these smug looks of martyrdom spread across their faces and that they actually believe themselves to be some sort of heroes or “voices” of the “trans community.”
What really bothers me — what really just makes my skin crawl — is that everyone in the audience fucking loves them for it. That everyone in the audience is apparently blind to the fact that transmisogyny is going on in their own, “safe,” queer community, and that bullshit like this is its very birthplace. Or, worse, maybe they’re not blind to it, but they don’t do anything to stop it, they don’t think it’s important and they still treat the purveyors of transmisogyny in the queer community like gods or something. It pretty much makes me want to vomit.