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The Names You Should Know On Transgender Day Of Remembrance 2020

Today, November 20, is Transgender Day of Remembrance. The observance grew out of a vigil for Rita Hester, a member of the Boston LGBTQ+ community who worked locally on education around trans issues and nurtured many of the city’s LGBTQ+ youth. She was killed in her home on November 28, 1998, a few days shy of her 35th birthday. Twenty-two years later, her murder has not been solved.

On the first anniversary of Hester’s death, trans advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith organized a vigil to commemorate Hester and all transgender people lost to violence since her death. That vigil began the tradition that is Transgender Day of Remembrance. “When the Transgender Day of Remembrance first began, trans people were nameless victims in many cases,” Smith wrote in 2014 for The Advocate. “Our killers would do their best to erase our existence from the world. And law enforcement, the media, and others would continue the job.”

This year, at least 34 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been murdered by violent means in the United States. This number is likely higher; victims are, to this day, often misgendered in local police statements and media reports, which can delay awareness of deadly incidents. The majority of these victims, like Hester, were Black transgender women living at the intersection of racism, homophobia, and transphobia. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-affected Hate Violence Report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs shows that, in 2016 (the last year this report was published), 79 percent of LGBTQ+ people murdered were people of color, 68 percent were transgender or gender non-conforming, and 61 percent were transgender women of color.

As you read this list and remember these victims, make a commitment to educate yourself about the issues facing the trans community, and learn how you can support the many organizations dedicated to making the world a safer and more welcoming place for our trans family. Being trans in this world shouldn’t mean walking through life with a target on your back. The following organizations are fighting for that change.

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