We pause each year at this time to reflect, commemorate, and mourn on the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. This day has a long history beginning here in the United States.

 

The Transgender Day of Remembrance, or TDOR, was founded by trans activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith after the murder of Rita Hester, a Massachusetts transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all of the trans people lost to violence that year and began an important memorial that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

  

From 1999 forward, the service has continued, spreading across the US in over 200 cities, and the world. The observance is now held annually in over 20 countries. A hallmark of the service is the reading of the names (where known) of all of those who have died violently since the previous year. We know that due to prejudice, undercounting, miscounting, misgendering, the actual total is far higher. In many American states, it isn’t even a hate crime to murder a trans person because they are a trans person.

 

TDORbigSt. Louis has one of the oldest traditions in the nation commemorating TDOR.

 

The roots of its 2001 founding by Blue and Cody Fairchild, and Barbara Fairchild, included collaboration with LGBT and trans rights pioneer Sylvia Rivera. Originally hosted in St. Louis at St. John's Episcopal, early supporters included civil rights activist Mo Costello and trans activist Robyn Montague. Later, the Gateway Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence participated in remembrance observation and support was also provided by the LGBT Center of St. Louis.

 

In 2015, the Metro Trans Umbrella Group of St. Louis (MTUG) collaborated with the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of St. Louis to offer a city wide all-are-welcome memorial observation that has fostered multiple services now across the area, many beginning the week before (traditionally, the week before TDOR is the “Week of Transgender Awareness”. This time is valuable for sharing the stories and challenges of America’s 1.4 million transgender and gender nonconforming Americans.

  

One aspect of these services that remains constant: every year, we hope the next year there are fewer names to read. We hope for that year when there are NO names to read. We hope for that time when we meet and memorialize all our murdered sisters, brothers, and siblings, but as a relic of our past and not an ongoing plague of violence against us.

 

We hope.


Monday, Nov. 19, 2018

 

Rally for Trans Rights: Visibility With Our Voices, 6-8 p.m., St. Louis City Hall (1200 Market St., St. Louis).

 

Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018

 

Transgender Day of Remembrance St. Charles, 7-8 p.m., Courtyard by Marriott (4341 Veterans Memorial Parkway, Saint Peters, MO 63376).

 

Transgender Day of Remembrance St. Louis, 6:30 p.m., Transgender Memorial Garden (1469 S. Vandeventer Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110). 

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