Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance: Why Acceptance Matters

Every year on November 20th, the world honors Transgender Day of Remembrance to raise awareness about the violence and discrimination the community encounters.  This important day began as a small tribute by a transgender advocate and has since grown into a global movement to combat intolerance and hate.

TDOR, or Trans Day of Remembrance, spotlights the continual violence suffered by transgender people worldwide. No matter your gender identity, let's understand the cause and explore ways to observe this important day. 

Featured in: November - Awareness Months, Days, and Remembrances

Transgender Day of Remembrance History and Background

waving trans flag
Photo by Kyle on Unsplash

In 1999, Gwendolyn Ann Smith lost her friend, Rita Hester, a well-loved transgender woman from Boston, to anti-trans violence. Her deep sorrow and longing for change spurred the first Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) to honor her memory and of others like her. Moreover, she chose November 20, the anniversary of Rita Hester's murder.

TDOR began as the "Remembering Our Dead" project, a simple online memorial and a digital archive where Smith painstakingly named each victim, celebrating their lives while condemning their violent ends. Soon, Smith's humble web project spread across borders and became a globally recognized day of action. 

Today, TDOR has been observed annually for over 20 years in multiple countries. For instance, the influential media advocacy group GLAAD issued a press release endorsing TDOR across the United States, attracting a broader audience and gathering support. 

Then, six years later, the American Medical Association followed and recognized TDOR in 2020. This gesture signaled a firm commitment from the medical community toward safeguarding transgender rights. And so, as each year passes, TDOR pushes forward a movement that educates, fosters visibility, and relentlessly drives change.

The Cause and Its Challenges

Observing Transgender Day of Remembrance demands an end to the discrimination that plagues transgender lives. Their struggles cover denied opportunities, verbal abuse, and fatal violence from hate crimes.

In 2022, the Human Rights Campaign reported that at least 38 transgender or gender non-conforming people—predominantly Black and Latinx transgender women—were murdered in the U.S. alone. 

Unfortunately, this gender violence is a worldwide phenomenon. For example, Transrespect documented the killing of 327 trans and gender-variant people between October 2021 and September 2022 worldwide.

Furthermore, transgender issues are inherently present in every aspect of life, from school to the streets and even at home. From healthcare clinics to classrooms, workplaces to courtrooms, prejudice follows those who identify as transgender. 

For instance, a previous National Transgender Discrimination Survey reveals that trans people are four times more likely to be impoverished, earning a meager income of less than $10,000 per year. Their economic insecurity has also led them to support themselves as sex workers. 

From the high costs of gender transition treatments to bullying at school, the transgender community faces many challenges.

Efforts and Initiatives

transgender color on eyes
Photo by Kyle on Unsplash

The Human Rights Campaign supports the Transgender Day of Remembrance, stirring conversations about change. They provide various resources for gender education, such as teach-ins and solidarity efforts.

Additionally, Amnesty International has made Transgender Day of Remembrance their rallying point. They inform people about the disturbing violence perpetrated against transgender people. They also push for policy changes, promoting equality and justice for all.

Then there's The Trevor Project which tackles the mental health crisis, especially among the youth. They offer tailored resources, providing a lifeline to those who need them most and showing why comprehensive support systems matter.

Finally, nonprofits like the TransLatin@ Coalition focus on a specific group of transgender people. In this case, they address the needs of the Latinx community immigrants in the United States. 

How to Commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance

candle vigil at night
Photo by Carly Hendrickson on Unsplash
  • Join candlelight vigils or marches in your local community. You can join virtual events if you can't attend these events personally. 
  • Volunteer at your local LGBTQ+ organizations. Also, you can give financial support to fuel their events.
  • Participate in or start fundraising activities, such as charity runs or online campaigns. Besides raising funds, these events amplify the visibility of the cause.
  • Post online to raise awareness about Transgender Day of Remembrance. You can actively engage others, join crucial discussions, and debunk misconceptions. Likewise, you can share personal stories, eye-opening infographics, or insightful articles. (you might find inspiration to share in our compilation of pride quotes)
  • Finally, remember the power of personal conversations. Using correct pronouns when referring to transgender individuals is a subtle but significant sign of recognition and respect. 

Related Awareness Days: LGBT History Month


By observing the Transgender Day of Remembrance, we put into the spotlight all the challenges the transgender community encounter. When we speak up for those silenced, we create a ripple, a wave for everyone to live authentically. Every November 20, let's remember the victims and the change we can make together. 

Transgender Day of Remembrance FAQs

1. What is Transgender Day of Remembrance? 

Transgender Day of Remembrance, marked every year on the 20th of November, is dedicated to remembering the lives tragically lost to anti-transgender violence.

2. What are the struggles transgender people face? 

Transgender people often have to cope with societal bias, widespread lack of legal protection, and difficulty accessing healthcare services. On a personal level, They may also struggle with acceptance, both socially and from their own families.

3. How can I support the transgender community every day? 

Start advocating for policies and stand up against transphobia wherever you see it. From your online presence to your real-life interactions, create a positive impact.

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