Transgender Day of Remembrance, 2020
Friday November 20, 2020 The Way of Witch will hold a candle ritual to honor the lives of the trans people who lost their lives to violence and murder this past year. We will read the names of trans people whose lives were cut short and burn candles to transmute the pain and suffering into strength for this vulnerable community.
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About the Trans Day of Remembrance
“Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”
– Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith
Friday, the 20th of November is the Trans Day of Remembrance. A day we remember all the trans people murdered since this time last year. An annual event 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.
This year promises to be the deadliest on record. As visibility has risen so has the death toll. In a year in which we have seen trans people gain previously unattainable positions of high office and hitherto unparalleled exposure in the media we also see more of us slain. As our rights are established in law so our access to healthcare, employment and shelter is evermore precarious, one hand appears to give while another snatches back.
Human rights are not just a requirement of a civil society they protect those to whom they are given. Without these rights survival becomes less certain and death becomes more likely. Jokes made at our expense, memes shared and followers of transphobic ‘celebrities’ on social media add to a culture of hate that results in trans people being denied basic rights, being treated as inhuman and tragically losing their lives. As we listen to the role call of names today let us consider that each one is a person who wanted space to live their life. Each one was denied that space by someone who thought their life was worth nothing. At the intersection of race, gender and economic status are trans women of colour who make up by far the most oppressed of our marginalised community.
A murder in this demographic has become almost a weekly occurrence and this has to stop. Safe spaces therefore are more important than ever. Shelters and prisons are where we need urgent change to safeguard vulnerable members of our community. Entrance to women only spaces and recognition of gender identity has never been more imperative to save lives. Advocacy has moved to protect the rights of women in need and young people at risk but public opinion needs to follow suit and allies have to speak up to maintain safety in spaces we have every right to occupy. Without these spaces we shall see increasing numbers of the dead for years to come.
So let us remember those who have been denied their lives, mark their passing in vigil and with tear-soaked cheeks and hope for a time when being trans doesn’t come with the threat of violence and possible death sentence.
Hanne Carrington Reay, Mexico, November 2020.