What Is Transgender Day of Remembrance? And Why Is Transgender Stories, Awareness, And Education Important?

Photo by Colton Doyle from The National Trans Visibility March on DC 2019

November 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) which brings attention and awareness to the lives lost by hate crimes and transphobic acts. In the week leading up to TDOR, people across the globe participate in Transgender Awareness Week which helps bring recognition and make changes to the oppression the community endures.

Have you ever heard of Rita Hester and Gwendolyn Ann Smith? It’s because of Hester’s life and Smith’s advocacy that every year there is time devoted to remembering transgender lives lost. People who would otherwise go unnoticed and forgotten. Hester was a transgender African American woman. In 1998 she was murdered in Allston, Massachusetts. Her murder was followed by vigils and a day to honor her. Smith, another transgender women, as well as a activist and graphic designer was a vital part in creating TDOR and creating a memorable legacy on behalf of Hester.

My name is Colton Doyle and I use they/them pronouns. I am a freshman at SOU majoring in studio art and a certificate in sound design. After I graduate I plan to go into body modification (tattooing and piercing). I identity as a queer trans person of color (QTPOC). Specifically transmasculine and nonbinary both which fall under the umbrella term of transgender. I have experienced bullying all of my life, stares or comments from people, and been thought less of because of how I identify. Sometimes having to do double or triple the work as a cisgender person just to get to the same place.

After coming out at the end of my junior year of high school, I used my experiences and turned it into activism and education. I have spent years advocating for queer/trans people of color, transgender folx, and the LGBT+ community; from attending the National Trans Visibility March on DC in 2019, to educating about pronouns and the healthcare system, to talking to people questioning their gender, sexuality and pronouns. Days like TDOR are vital in bringing about change and waking the world up to what the transgender community faces and how real our fears are.

Every year, we lose transgender folx to hate crimes, transphobic acts of violence, and suicide. Accurate statistics are hard to come by as often these crimes aren’t reported due to fear or lack of trust in the process and the people involved. According to PFlag, in 2020 we lost 53 trans lives in the United States and 386 worldwide. Across social media there have been many hashtags created to increase information shared so these lives lost are remembered. For example: #saytheirnames or #transawareness.

There are many organizations that have resources to guide and support people who are struggling, like The Trevor Project and the National Center for Transgender Equality. They provide resources like hotlines, chats, and advice on coming out. Some even have support groups or peer support. There are also companies and organizations that are transgender or queer owned that receive donations to give to individuals who aren’t able to on their own, especially minors. Southern Oregon University offers support through the Student Health and Wellness Center as well as the Gender and Sexuality Justice (previously the Queer Resource Center) has its own resources and support. 

For those who are in need of support here are some other resources to check out:

Contact Information for Colton: doylec@sou.edu

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