The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.
We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred based violence, especially since the events of September 11th. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. This trend shows no sign of abating.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
Transepiscopal has more. Including a theological reflection cited in part:
For me, coming to terms with my gender identity needed a spiritual component. This isn’t something I could have done without a religious and spiritual support network. (Or, as I commonly refer to them, my Godsquad). For many years, I struggled to keep sexuality and gender identity as far apart from each other as I could. They were two extremes that I bounced between and while I dreamt of somehow reconciling them, I didn’t have the faintest idea of how to reconcile them within myself. In January of 2009, the HDS Episcopalians went on a one day retreat to the monastery of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist in Cambridge and I ended up spending over an hour in the small chapel there – I just needed to be. In front of the icon of Jesus with the Beloved Disciple, I begged God for a sign that I was okay. That the gender identity issues that were surfacing and that I was struggling to name – that somehow it was okay. I needed a sign that it was okay to be trans. I did get the sign, in the end. Praying and meditating on the icon, I felt myself become the beloved disciple and heard Jesus say to me – “You are my beloved and you are mine.”