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The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance on November 20 that honours the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. It was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender activist who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and began an important memorial that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Since its inception, the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) has slowly evolved from the web-based project started by Gwendolyn Smith into an international day of action. In 2010, TDoR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries and has been growing exponentially over the last decade.
Traditionally, it has been the custom to read out the names of those killed (if they could be identified) at the Remembrance service, their age and how they were killed. This really does bring home the utter senselessness of these murders and very often their extreme horror. However, at the service which we held last year, many people found the appalling brutality of these murders too shocking and had to leave the room. Bearing this on mind, this year we will tone down the description of their murders and simply read out their names and register the fact that they were murdered.
So many of those who have been murdered had been kicked out and rejected by their families and were forced out onto the streets and into sex work as the only way to survive. So many are taken from our community with nobody to remember them, some are even without a name, some have been so badly disfigured it is impossible to identify them. They were all human beings though, like you, like me – capable of receiving and giving love, happiness, compassion and kindness. Nobody deserves this for simply being true to who they are. This is why we have a Remembrance Day for them, for many would otherwise never have this privilege.