Honoring Trans Day of Remembrance

As we move towards the end of 2022 I am drawn to reflect on the year and our work – specifically our impact on people who continue to be marginalized and disproportionately experience homelessness. Today, I am reflecting on the lives of our transgender friends and neighbors that were lost in acts of violence and anti-trans hate.  

On Sunday, November 20 we will observe Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). This day gives our community the space to grieve these losses and to recommit ourselves to combatting the bigotry and discrimination transgender people face every day that results in death, homelessness, and housing instability. As described by GLAAD, TDOR “was started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence since Rita Hester’s death and began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.” 

The facts are stark. According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 32 transgender people have already been killed by violent means this year in our country.  The majority of those killed were Black or Latinx transgender women. In 2021 the Trevor Project reported that one in five transgender people have experienced homelessness, and that homelessness and housing instability are reported at higher rates among transgender and nonbinary youth, including 38% of transgender girls/women, 39% of transgender boys/men, and 35% of nonbinary youth, compared to 23% of cisgender LGBQ youth. 

As the CEO of the Alliance and the Board President of True Colors United, I have the opportunity to partner with amazing people every day and deeply appreciate the talents and passion of my trans and non-binary peers. Young people – including trans young people – guided my thinking and changed the way I approach my work in the best of ways. I am forever grateful for that partnership and for the generosity of spirit that led many of those partners to share their lived experiences and expertise with me.

It is unthinkable that any of my trans peers and partners would be subject to the kind of violence that killed more than 30 people already in 2022. But the fact is that they are at higher risk of it every day.

On this Transgender Day of Remembrance I pause to remember the 32 incredible lights that were extinguished already this year. We are deeply grateful for so many others who continue – despite the bigotry and discrimination they face – to persevere and bring their own light to this nation and to our lives and work. The Alliance also commits to working harder to end homelessness and other forms of violence that disproportionately impact transgender people, and to do so in solidarity and partnership.