Transgender Day of Remembrance: Ten Things You Can Do

Today is the 2012 International Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s an event that was started by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1998 following the murder of fellow trans woman Rita Hester. Fourteen years later, TDoR is now observed in more than 185 cities around the world, and is a way to mourn and remember all of those who have lost their lives to transphobic violence. It’s also a day to raise public awareness of the very real threat that many trans* people — especially trans women of color — face every day simply for existing. It’s also a call to action for trans* people and their allies to stand up against racism and transphobia and the political indifference that allows them to continue. So how can you get involved? Here are ten ways that you can be a part of TDoR 2012.

1. Hold a vigil for this year’s victims.

Click here for a list of all of the reported transphobic murders worldwide so far in 2012. Look over the names and photos by yourself, or read this list with others. You might even want to light a candle. You’ll notice that nearly all of the victims are trans women of color.

2. Change your profile picture.

Consider changing your profile picture on Facebook today to the Transgender Pride Flag or other TDoR-related image. It’s an easy and effective way to increase visibility and awareness of TDoR.

3. Hug a trans* person.

I’m not suggesting that you go up and hug a random trans* person on the street, but it might be nice to reach out to your trans* friends to let them know how much you love and appreciate them. In addition to the violence that many of us face, 41% of trans* people have attempted suicide at some point in their lives. The fact that we’re here and living as our true, authentic selves is something worth celebrating.

4. Donate to a trans* organization.

There are a lot of really great trans* organizations fighting for true gender equality and civil rights, and all of them need help from donations to continue doing such important work. A gift of even $10 or $20 to the Transgender Law Center, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, or El/La Para TransLatinas can really make a difference.

5. Volunteer at a trans* youth organization.

Most trans* people have traumatic memories of growing up closeted, scared, and alone — I certainly do. So why not help to improve the lives of the next generation of trans* youth? Considering volunteering at an organization that specifically focuses on their needs. Check with your local LGBT center for volunteer opportunities in your area.

6. Write a letter to Cece McDonald.

For those of you who don’t know, Cece McDonald is a trans woman who is currently serving a prison sentence (in a men’s facility, of course) for defending herself from a transphobic attack in which her assailant died. In other words, she’s in jail for refusing to be another name on the TDoR list. I’m sure that she would appreciate a letter of solidarity and support as a reminder that although she has been unjustly imprisoned, she is far from alone.

7. Look into you school’s / employer’s gender identity anti-discrimination policy and hold them accountable.

You’d be surprised at how many schools and companies have outdated policies regarding transphobia and discrimination. Find out what the ones at your school/work are, and if don’t be afraid to raise the issue if they need to be updated or fixed. You should also insist that the health insurance policy offered is trans*-inclusive. You’ll undoubtedly be making life easier for some trans* person in the future.

8. Reaffirm your commitment to call out transphobia and cissexism.

Many people still think that it’s socially acceptable to say really awful things about trans* people. Some don’t even realize that they’re being offensive. That was the case when I went to a salon appointment a couple months ago. The esthetician started telling me about how she and her friends were out barhopping and accidentally ended up at a “tranny club” the previous weekend. I usually don’t like outing myself to people I don’t know, but I fought through the discomfort and did, so that I could teach her why what she said was wrong. Because words matter. Words shape our attitudes; attitudes that have allowed at least one trans* person to be murdered each month for the past decade. So the next time you overhear someone saying transphobic or cissexist remarks, don’t let it slide.

9. Educate yourself about how racism, xenophobia, and classism intersect with transphobia.

As the saying goes, “my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” And that couldn’t be truer when it comes to transphobia and transphobic violence. It’s no coincidence that my experience as a white, upper-middle class, educated trans girl is very different than that of the women on the TDoR list- it’s important to understand why if we want our activism to be effective.  I recommend Captive Genders, Normal Life , and this article are good places to start if you want to learn more.

 10. Share your feelings in the comments section below.

TDoR can be a really emotional day for number of reasons, and it’s important to express the feelings it may cause in a safe and supportive space. Also because we love you and want to hear from you.

I’ll leave you with this video tribute to the trans* people who lost their lives to senseless violence in 2012. Don’t watch unless you have some tissues handy.

2012 Transgender Day of Remeberance from SCĒN on Vimeo.

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I'm a 23 year old femme lesbian living in SF. Once upon a time, I was a USC frat boy ;) I ♥ music so please recommend your favorite artists to me!

annika has written 21 articles for us.


  1. It’s so important to remember the trans* people who society has tried to erase. Sometimes it’s hard to call out people who are using cis-sexist language or throwing around words like “tranny” even in our own community. One thing that I’m definitely going to do is to be better about being a trans* ally– I know I sometimes fail to call people out when they aren’t someone I feel comfortable with.

    And yes, that video did make me tear up.

  2. I really, really wish that I was better at #8, but I have this awful thing going on where I’m usually only able to really call out people I already dislike.

    • It’s really hard sometimes, especially if (like me) you were raised to avoid conflict at all costs. But it’s important to make people realize that their words and attitudes can have very real consequences, and I always feel better when I do say something instead of letting it slide.

    • I find it a little awkward sometimes, too, but it’s possible to gently call out the people you love. If I’m talking to friends and anyone says something problematic, I’ll say (very calmly) “that’s not true, because ____”. Sometimes, when people are close to us and willing to listen, educating them (and not just calling them out) will go a long way. They may be confused afterwards but hopefully they’ll react well in the long run.

    • The thing is, if you’re friends with someone (and I mean really friends), they’re more likely to listen to your callout.

  3. 11. Stop supporting the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival
    12. Stop supporting transphobic feminists such as Adrienne Rich.

    • Yeah, I think there’s something trans-positive feminists need to do which is, even if we think a particular work (that maybe doesn’t address trans issues) by one of them is worth reading, we need to not spend money on it if we think it could be going toward them or their estate.

      Do what pro-LGBT sci-fi fans have been doing with Orson Scott Card’s books for years: check it out of the library, or buy it second-hand if you want to read it. But don’t support the author if they’re an asshole.

      • By the way, since I didn’t clarify the “one of them” is talking about transphobic feminists – I think trans-positive feminists need to refuse to support transphobic feminists monetarily.

      • And in keeping with #8 educate other feminists about why monetary support for transphobic feminists is a problem even if the work in question in not transphobic.

  4. I’m going to a vigil that I helped organise. Despite social anxiety, I’m giving a speech. I’ve been feeling quite unnerved since last night.

    • If you have stage fright, see if you can get a one-time prescription for an anti-stress drug like a beta blocker. I’m a musician and I have performance anxiety and know others who do, and they’ve had doctors help them with it in that way. It might be too late now but it’s a good tip for the future.

      • Bit too late for a prescription, but thanks for the advice! And a friend has offered to ‘lend’ me one.

        I’ve done all sorts of things to overcome my performance anxiety — acting, storytelling, busking, performing onstage as a musician — but it’s an ongoing process.

      • Thank you so much! I need all the encouragement going, and I’m really looking forward to meeting more people in the local trans* community. Activism + community = love.

  5. Today I’m interviewing a trans* activist in Argentina for a research project I’m doing on the economic attainment of trans* women. Excited/super nervous!

  6. hey, does anyone have any good links about the importance of today, and like explanation of trans* terms? I’m co-running an LGBT group at my school, and we’re not meeting today but I want to post on our facebook page about TDoR. The people at my school are mostly uneducated about anything trans* related, but they’re totally open to learning. Anyway! I want to try to make them more aware of things like this, because the group is mostly lesbians and sort of forgets about the GBT aspect.

  7. I’ve slowly been educating the people around me about genderqueer, which I identify as, in the larger conversation about trans* issues. Fortunately, I work with some really great people who really want to be welcoming, both as people and as an institution, so they’re really teachable. For example, the other day my boss (cisgendered, straight, white guy, early 60’s) said “I could never imagine being a women, I mean, could you even imagine being a man?” Without missing a beat, I replied, “Yes, absolutely.” This launched us into a great conversation about gender theory and resources. My boss is a minister.

    I have hope.

    • Your boss sounds fantastic. I always expect older people to be less open-minded but it always surprises me when some of them can be more accepting even than some people our age.

    • Just want to say as a (liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay) pastor’s kid, not all pastors are conservative jerks – they can surprise you sometimes! Sounds like your boss is one of the good ones!

  8. I actually was lucky enough to do #7 this year (got my law school to remove gender markers from transcripts–why the hell were they there in the first place?).

    #8 is something I should really work on. It’s hard though, because I’ve always been bad at standing up for myself. I guess it’s because I think I’m a grotesque, lurching, disfigured half-woman penis-having thing that’s lucky to get anything better than scorn, much less respect. Maybe it comes with the territory when you can’t look at yourself in the mirror. Still, I’ll try. Trying is basically all I can do.

    Maybe I’ll do better if I think of it as standing up for others (if that’s not too patronizing) rather than for myself.

    • you are anything but a grotesque thing. you are lovely. you are strong and you stick up for people who need it. keep doing that until the day comes when you understand that you are beautiful and worth fighting for.

    • Thanks so much, guys! I wasn’t fishing for compliments, but I get down sometimes. This brightened my day! :)

    • I don’t know you, but no matter what you think of yourself, unless you’re like a mass murderer or who steals candy from kids, you deserve respect. You deserve to be heard and acknowledged.

      If you can’t speak up for your own safety, that’s ok. Being a trans* woman does not sound like a walk through the park. If you can speak up, though, do it. Even though you’re far away, there’s people in this world (like me and the other commenters) who stand right behind you.

    • *hug* I have days like this too. I’m sure you’re an awesome person and I think it’s cool that you got your law school to remove gender markers from transcripts. Way to go :D stuff like this might help carve a path for future legal students.

  9. All the suggestions are great, but I want to add a couple of more organizations to support:

    TLDEF, an NYC-based advocacy and legal defense organization which has done a great deal for poor trans women of color:

    GLAD: Despite the long form of their acronym, they’ve actually done more than virtually any single organization to fight for trans rights in the legal sphere.

    The TGI Justice Project, a coalition of people both inside and outside of prison who are very much the target population who is being murdered in such high numbers:

    The Video: I’m not crazy about having a white, middle class transman (even though Masen does good work with TLC) speaking for the TDOR. How about actually having the populations which are really impacted by this remembrance (which is overwhelmingly trans women and transfeminine MAAB people of color) actually speak for themselves and get to characterize what this all means to them. Are they not capable or presentable enough to a larger mainstream to do this for themselves? While I appreciate trans men, white cis queers and white middle class persons (like myself) are moved by the TDOR and want to help, being seen as the natural spokespersons of such an event is just wrong, inappropriate and, in a subtle way, perpetuates the marginalization of the women and MAAB queer people who are being murdered.

  10. (I figure that this would be an appropriate space to share a short poem I wrote last night for a friend I lost May 13th, 2011)

    Oh beautiful soul,
    I pray that you have found the peace that you sought.
    I hope that you are finally free to dance among the clouds,
    That the weight of the world has been lifted from your weary shoulders.
    Your light and joy shine on forever in the souls that you have touched,
    We who knew you, no matter how briefly, are forever in your debt…”
    ~Elissa Marcelle

    A remembrance of Krista Renee Easter, a friend and inspiration

      • *hugs* thanks dear, she changed my life and the loss of her in my life still hurts me beyond words. She was a beautiful person inside and out and she inspired me greatly in my own journey.

  11. Thank you so much for this article. It really made me reflect on how I can be a better trans* ally, not just today, but 24/7. Annika, I love your writing. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  12. Pingback: Transgender Day of Remembrance | Up Popped A Fox

  13. I always feel very emotional on TDOR and am always appalled at the lack of concern people have for those on the TDOR list. I had a classmate tell me today that 265 trans people being murdered worldwide in the past year ‘wasn’t that bad’. I couldn’t believe it.
    Also I wanted to note that I’m glad this article mentioned how we can demand transpositive policies in our schools and workplaces. I personally have been struggling with this recently and I think I will take this advice. Thank you.

    • That is certainly quite a few of us. I am curious, though, as to how many of these deaths weren’t due to the person being transgendered, but due to some other reason. Like the man who got bumped in the head, for example. A lot of transgendered people turn to drugs to get them past the trauma of living as the wrong sex. If he was one such transperson, perhaps he simply ticked off his dealer?
      Transgenderism has an estimated prevalence of between 1/1000 and 1/200 people (source, so if we multiply 1/600 by the number of people living in the world (about 7 billion), we should get a rough estimate of the total number of transpeople in the world: ~11.6 million (we’ll say 12 million). We can be fairly certain that Transgender DoR is only aware of a small fraction of the total number of transgender murders, so saying “only 265/12,000,000” would be inaccurate at this point.
      However, if we were to assume that there actually were 265 murders of transpeople worldwide every year and that those murders occurred only because the person was trans…
      Considering the prevalence of transgenderism (about 1/600) and the number of babies born each year worldwide (about 70 million), the number of transgendered babies born each year is roughly 112,000.
      112,000 – 265 = 111,735 more transgendered people each year
      And the chance of you getting killed in a trans hate crime each year (assuming there are only 265 killed worldwide) is virtually zero, and the chance of it happening at some point during your life (using the average life expectancy in today’s time, 67.2) is 1.5/1000.
      If one wanted to find out whether the number of transpeople murdered for being trans in each year was a high amount for a hatecrime, one would have to compare it to other hate murders, something I don’t feel like doing here right now, lol.
      So, depending on what the actual prevalence of transgenderism is (I used 1/600) and the actual number of transmurders each year, your friend may be correct in that 265 of us getting killed each year is actually not all that much, and your friend may be incorrect in that it is a large percentage of us who get murdered, but it’s still sad that any die at all.
      NOTE: I’m pretty sleepy, so I probably made some typos and/or misstated something in there somewhere.

      • You make a good point – it’s hard to be sure on motives for murder sometimes, and I would imagine some of the murders are due to drug deals and violent clients and not necessarily for being trans. Still, it sucks that we’re losing *anybody*, regardless of the specific reason.

        Also, a lot of murders go unreported, and not every trans person is visibly trans, so the number of murders might be higher than 265 – when I read that number I was surprised at how small it was.

        • Yeah, I was surprised too. I’m certain it’s higher than that, but I suppose the non-hatecrime deaths that were counted could make up for that somewhat. If there’s an estimate for how many murders go unreported, we might be able to extrapolate somewhat, but extrapolation is usually pretty inaccurate.
          Oh, and I gave the wrong source for the prevalence of transgenderism. Here’s the right one: . At least both links were by the same author, lol. :)

      • Let’s put it this way… rather than talking about ALL trans people, make it more specifically keyed to black or latino/Brazilian trans women and gender variant MAAB persons under the age of 40 and you’ll have a very different conclusion.

        • Worldwide, or in a specific country? The stats in my comment are based on the hypothetical scenario where there were only 265 transperson murders worldwide in 2012, based on DoR’s data. The majority of the world is not “white”, so naturally, worldwide, there would be more deaths of what we in the west consider to be “minorities”, and since the majority of “white” people have access to better healthcare than the majority of other races (meh, race is such an unnecessary concept), transpeople of other races would also have a higher likelihood of not surviving murder attempts. Your insinuation of racism increasing murders is probably correct to some extent, but it might be less direct than you think, and it is certainly very country-specific. Perhaps it’s less that non-“white” transpeople are killed because they aren’t “white”, but because they’re more likely to be economically disadvantaged than “white” people, for various reasons. Or perhaps it’s both; or neither.

          • I was falling asleep as I wrote this. I’ll probably need to clarify something when I wake up tomorrow.

      • Wow, so many things in your comment are completely inappropriate to say anytime let alone on a post about TDOR. The entire point of your post is to diminish violence against trans people through lies and misleading.

        First off, you talk about “the man who got bumped in the head.” I assume you meant Brenting Dolliole as they were the only person presenting masculine in the video and cause of death was “severe head trauma.” A simple google search would show they were beaten to death. Not exactly a bump to the head.

        Second, your statistics just don’t make sense. A study from the UN gives the world murder rate as 6.9 per 100,000 people per year. The murder rate you give for trans people is even smaller than that, which is clearly wrong. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported that in 2011, 40 percent of people murdered in hate crimes were trans women, and other studies regularly show that transwomen have a significantly higher murder rate. Your stats prob don’t add up because there isn’t actually a good study on how many trans there are, and the estimate you used was on the very high side.

        Finally, what the fuck, assuming a black, trans murder victim was a drug user. And even if they were, the language you used to explain why they would be is bullshit too. I don’t have “trauma from living as the wrong sex.” For me and many other trans women most of our suffering comes from living in a world were many of us lose our families and other support networks, are denied housing and employment and face regular harassment. Even in queer spaces that are nominally supposed to support trans people we can expect to find people like you disrespecting a day for commemorating our dead.

  14. Hello, I am Jay, an Indigenous demi-gender person from Canada.

    I never knew that this existed four years ago. Heck, I didn’t even know I was trans* or even what being trans* meant. I was fourteen, I just thought that when I felt extremely dysphoric, it was just my depression.

    Throughout the years of figuring out who I am, I have learned a lot. Sadly, I figured out about the violence and hate, too. This is from first hand experience. As a younger person, it’s a lot to take in.

    Despite the transphobia I face daily at school, I have decided to show my support. I am trying to decide how to approach this, as the kids at my school are not friendly. At one point, I considered bringing my pride flag to school, but a friend of mine brought his, and some girl grabbed it from his backpack, causing him to fall down the stairs.

    I am somewhat worried about this happening to me, but I still want to go through with it. Is there any ideas that any of you have? It’s five days away, but I want to be prepared, because it’s going to be hard on a lot of us, and I want to pay respects.


  15. Trump gave people license to hate and kill; hopefully Biden will stick by his promise the revoke that “license”.

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