Transgender Day of Remembrance Reminds Us to #SayHerName and that Boys Do Cry

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Today is the 16th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, and we at The Mary Sue want to take a moment today to remember the victims of transphobic violence, and to express hope for the future of the transgender community here at the “transgender tipping point,” and beyond.

It was the horrific murder of two trans women of color back in 1998 that inspired the creation of TDOR. One of them was Rita Hester of Allston, MA, who was well-known and well-loved in the city’s trans and black LGBTQ+ communities. Samantha Allen at The Daily Beast has done a wonderful piece today detailing Hester’s story and its aftermath, which you should definitely check out. The other murder that inspired this Day of Remembrance was that of Chanelle Pickett, another trans woman of color from Massachusetts who was killed three years prior to Hester, and whose murderer was acquitted for that murder (but charged with assault and battery) only a couple of months before Hester’s death.

Gwendolyn Ann Smith gathered a small group of trans people in San Francisco’s Castro District in 1999 holding up the names of their dead in silence. 16 years later, TDOR has grown in importance as these transphobic murders continue to happen even as we become more aware of and educated about the transgender community and their issues and concerns.

This year, 81 transgender people have been killed around the world in transphobic instances of violence, and you can read all their names here. In addition, there are some names that were left off that list: Mya Hall and Brittany Flemming of Baltimore, and Zella Ziona of Gaithersburg. (Damn, Maryland. What’s going on over there?) And of course, these are just the ones that have been reported. The ones that made the news. Who knows how many more we’ll never hear about?

The vast majority of those killed have been trans women, and a vast majority of those have been women of color.

However, this isn’t to say that there aren’t also trans men on that list. There are. What’s sad is that trans men are often imprisoned by the same toxic masculinity as cis men, so that when they experience violence, they can’t or don’t come forward or talk about their experiences, because they aren’t taken as seriously. What’s more, the violence often turns inward as their being silenced can lead to suicide or other self-harm.

It’s important to understand the unique experiences of trans men, even as we recognize that trans women often bear the brunt of violence as cis women often do. Gotta love that patriarchy. It manages to screw all genders equally.

The Advocate has some great infographics and information to share about those we should remember today. It seems that the US and Brazil have the largest problems with transphobic violence, and with these too-large numbers, it’s understandable to feel defeated, deflated, or hopeless.

But there’s reason for hope, too. After all, Transgender Day of Remembrance has been going on for 16 years now, and gets more and more visible every year, as trans people become more and more visible and as cisgender folks get more and more educated. There’s so much more work that needs to be done, but for every name on this list there are more that are still here.

If you’d like some hope today, check out this episode of the Emmy-nominated docu-series, This is Me entitled “Generations.” In it, trans advocate and therapist Valerie Spencer and trans teenager Lily Rubenstein talk about trans history and the future of the trans community, and it’s thrilling to watch. By the way, my girlfriend was the sound mixer on this project as part of a majority-transgender crew, so it was pretty epic behind the camera as well as in front of it.

And to all the trans folks reading this, remember that for all the hateful people out there, there are those of us cis folks who love you immensely.

I’m one of them.

(Image via SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)

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Image of Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.