By Kayleigh Hendricks ’23
Transgender awareness week annually kicks off on November 13th and leads up to Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on November 20th. This one week in November was created to memorialize the victims of transphobic violence.
Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor the memory of Rita Hester who was a transgender woman killed in 1998.
“Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence,” said Smith. “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.”
80% of Americans believe they have never met a transgender personally, meaning, a majority of the education surrounding the trans community overwhelmingly misrepresents and mischaracterizes trans people. This is significantly influenced from public perceptions, policy, and attitudes about the transgender community.
Chanelle Pickett, an African-American transgender woman, was beaten and strangled in November 1995. A year before the murder, she and her sister, also an African-American transgender woman, had steady jobs, and were harassed for six weeks by a supervisor, then fired. Pickett was then murdered by William Palmers a man with a predatory attitude toward transgender women. Despite the strong physical evidence against him, Palmer was convicted only of assault and battery, and received two years of jail time.
“So far, at least 36 transgender or gender nonconforming people have been killed in 2020,” the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. A majority of those were Black and Latinx transgender women. According to the statement, HRC has recorded the highest number of violent deaths of gender nonconforming people this year than any year since 2013, when they began keeping track. The year 2017 previously held the highest number of transgender fatalities with 31 recorded deaths,” Washington Blade writer, Parker Purifoy reported.
More information can be found at https://www.hrc.org/resources/transgender.