Transgender Awareness Week and Remembrance Day important for progress

Category:  Opinions
Friday, November 26th, 2021 at 3:27 PM
Transgender Awareness Week and Remembrance Day important for progress by Alexander Beatty
Photo: Pexels.com

Transgender Awareness Week falls between Nov 13 and Nov 19. Transgender Day of Remembrance is Nov 20. Transgender Awareness Week is a week for people in the community alongside allies to educate the public about transgender people, the issues they face and increase advocacy around violence and discrimination, according to GLAAD. 

Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded by Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil for Rita Hester, a transgender woman who had been brutally killed in 1998. She died in her apartment two days before her 35th birthday. Her death was one of violence with 20 stab wounds. She was loved by her family and her community. Transgender Day of Remembrance serves as a purpose to remember all the lives lost to violence (a number that is increasing). 

It should be noted that her violent death falls only a month after Matthew Shepard’s brutal death. He was a 20-year-old college student who was beaten and tied to a fence left in the cold overnight — later dying in a coma six days later. The reason for his death was simply a hatred of his sexuality.  

An Oscar Wilde quote fits this scenario, a quote inspire by the life of Alan L. Hart (a transgender man famous for helping detect tuberculosis with x-rays), “He had been driven from place to place, from job to job, for fifteen years because of something he could not alter any more than he could change the color of his eyes. Gossip, scandal, rumor always drove him on." 

The reason for all these deaths is simply something that they do not have control over and something that a few people in society punished them for. A community that was already reeling from one death had to now endure another death. That’s why there are remembrance days — to honor and remember each life lost. 

In 2021, it would make sense that transgender hate crime has decreased because of more open-minded people and protection laws, but unfortunately, that is not the case. According to  The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), at least 47 transgender and gender non-conforming people have already been killed this year (note: these stories are often misreported or unreported). There were 44 total reported deaths in 2020, and 47 so far in 2021 before the year has even ended.  

These were all real people who loved and lived life to the fullest, people who had family and friends and a community. Transgender women of color seem to be the highest target of these crimes. The day of remembrance is to remember their names and not let them be forgotten. It is a somber day, but it is also a day of remembrance and respect 

Sadly, when these crimes are reported, the victim is often misgendered and deadnamed by police and newspapers alike, which only adds to the dehumanizing factor. Even after their brutal deaths, they aren’t granted respect — another reason to have this day. 

Take some time this week to think about those we have lost to violence and how we portray gender stereotypes in the real world and everyday life. 

Alexander Beatty, Staff Writer | @EdinboroNow 

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