November is Transgender Awareness Month

The month of November marks Transgender Awareness Month, a time for trans and gender nonconforming people and their allies to come together to celebrate successes and to take action on issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence that affect the transgender community.

During Transgender Awareness Month, there are a couple of important observances: Transgender Awareness Week and the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Every year, between November 13th and 19th, people and organizations nationwide participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise visibility about transgender and gender nonconforming people and to address issues members of the community face. Awareness is raised by educating the public about who transgender/gender nonconforming people are, sharing stories and experiences, and advancing advocacy around issues as prejudice, discrimination, and violence.

Transgender Awareness Week is a week-long lead up to November 20th: Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). TDOR was founded in 1999 by trans activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor her memory of Rita Hester, an African American transgender woman who was murdered in Boston, MA on November 28, 1998. Rita Hester was a highly visible member of the Boston transgender community where she worked to educate people about transgender issues. A year later, Smith coordinated a vigil which sparked a movement to commemorate not only Rita Hester but all lost to anti-transgender violence.

In relatively normal times (or pre-COVID), participating in TDOR meant attending or organizing a vigil to honor all those lost to anti-transgender violence that year. In Sacramento, Trinity Cathedral, PFLAG Sacramento, the Gender Health Center (GHC), River City Gems, and others sponsored the Annual TDOR Candlelight Vigil where the names of those lost to violence were read. As of the writing of this post, no news has been released regarding a TDOR commemoration in the Sacramento area. If there is, this post will be updated along with a widget on the main page.

Lastly and quite certainly not the least, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 2020 has seen at least 34 transgender or gender nonconforming people fatally shot or killed in violence. The number given only refers to reported cases and not those unreported or misreported. Also, a majority of those killed are African American or Latinx transgender women.

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