Today is Friday, November 20, and on this day, transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary individuals and allies around the world will read the names of murder victims who identified as they do. As I do.
We’ll do so in a new way: via Zoom, separated from one another, lighting candles alone, staring into screens instead of gathering together, as we have for so long, for our own safety.
Not surprisingly, 2020 remains on brand as being the worst year in memory: this is the deadliest year for transgender people since the counting began.
The death toll in the United States exceeds all prior years, with at least 34 victims — the Human Rights Campaign counts at least 37 — most of whom were Black and Latinx women.
But those three dozen names amount to just a portion of the victims being remembered; Gwendolyn Ann Smith, whose work tracking anti-trans violence led to the first commemoration in 1999, wrote this alarming report in the Bay Area News: “Worldwide, some 350 killings took place: nearly one for each day of the year.”
That quote gave me pause. I thought, after reading that statistic of 350: What a year it’s been, and not just for trans people. The pandemic has changed life as we know it in so many ways, including of course, sports.
Last night, I was reminded by a fellow journalist how the incredible courage of coming out as an athlete can be not only contagious, but inspiring to the entire LGBTQ community. Our experience and identities may be different, but not the challenges we overcome: First, self-acceptance, the risk of rejection, and often we face the potential of workplace, housing and healthcare discrimination. It’s... a lot.
But one of the things that gives me hope during these trying times, in addition to the privilege of telling these inspiring stories, is how the wider community has largely embraced and supported the fight for trans and non-binary athletes and everyday people, too. We matter, and losing even one of us to violence hurts all of us.
GLAAD, GLSEN, HRC and other groups and LGBTQ sites like our friends at The Advocate have devoted time and web space today and all this past week, just as Outsports has, to mark Trans Awareness Week, and this Transgender Day of Remembrance, often abbreviated as TDoR. HRC also released a report Thursday, on what the American Medical Association calls the “epidemic” of violence impacting the transgender community.
What can you do on this occasion? First, I invite you to read-up on some of our recent stories related to this commemoration and our transgender sports community, which is my community, too:
- Trans Awareness Week 2020: Be aware that we want to play and we want to live
- When trans athletes come out, their teammates and coaches embrace them
- Transgender teen fought for his right to play, and won
- Trans long-distance runner finds freedom as she lives her life fearlessly
Next, consider attending one of the many TDoR services being held around the world, all online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are but a few:
- Stonewall in London is hosting a TDoR service on Facebook beginning at 1 p.m. EST.
- The Not Alone Plymouth group at the University of Plymouth, England will release a video and host an online conversation at 9 a.m. EST (2 p.m. local time).
- The Center in New York City hosted its service on Wednesday. Watch it on YouTube here.
- New York City’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah holds a service beginning at 5 p.m. EST.
- Here’s the event tonight in Newark, N.J., provided by our friend, Cathy Renna:
- There are several commemorations tonight in and around Chicago according to Equality Illinois.
- The City of West Hollywood will host an online Transgender Day of Remembrance Ceremony at 6 p.m. PST.
- The Stranger published a list of online TDoR events in the Pacific Northwest.
- Seattle public schools commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance as part of its curriculum.
- The Center for Diversity and Inclusion at the Ringling College of Art + Design in Sarasota, Fla. hosts a vigil at 7:30 p.m. EST.
- The Nashville TDOR ceremony is on Facebook at 7 p.m. CST.
- The Simon Fraser Student Society at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, will hold a TDoR service beginning at 5 p.m. PST.
- At 10 p.m. EST, a poet named Subhaga will read from her work in progress, “Transitory: A Catalog of Gender Nonconforming and Trans Women and Men Murdered in 2020.” The reading will feature a poem for each lost trans or gender nonconforming individual. She says she will use her event to raise funds to benefit the National Center for Transgender Equality.
- Our Karleigh Webb and I will participate in the Hartford, Conn. TDoR service organized by Rev. Aaron Miller of the Metropolitan Community Church, which will also feature a prayer by members of the Pride Committee from Congregation Beth Israel. We’ll also pause to pay tribute to our dear friend, Monica Roberts.
- Karleigh is also taking part in the New Haven, Conn. Pride Center’s panel on Facebook and YouTube, “Right to Play: Trans Folks & Sports,” at 3 p.m. EST.
- Boston’s transgender and gender nonconforming community comes together for its TDoR service on Sunday, Nov 22, via Zoom, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Mass. in 1998 was the inspiration for Smith’s “Remembering Our Dead” project, which was followed by the very first Transgender Day of Remembrance events in San Francisco and Boston. Our eternal thanks to Gwen Smith for her tireless work over the two decades since.
If you cannot afford the time to attend an online event, I ask that you consider if you can afford to make a donation to one of these 15 worthy charities benefiting transgender people. Let us hope their work and the support of our allies brings an end to anti-trans violence, someday.