TRANSGENDER Day of Remembrance (TDoR) honours the memory of people who have been killed in transphobic attacks, and raises awareness of violence against trans people. Since it began in 1999, TDoR is observed annually on 20 November in over 20 countries.
Almost all murdered trans people are trans women. Most of them are trans women of colour, and many are sex workers. Over 100 trans people have been murdered this year – a deceptively low number, as most countries don’t routinely record whether victims are trans.
In Adelaide, an evening vigil was held at Light Square. Speakers included Kristyana Finch, President of the Gender Diversity Alliance SA, and Harry Coulthard-Dare, who recently appeared in the documentary Just Harry, featured on SBS.
“We remember the suffering of others and empower our community to be proactive,” Finch said.
“The community has been crippled with fear for too long. It is possible to stimulate our political leaders to take up [trans] issues.”
Brisbane community group Many Genders One Voice hosted a midday TDoR event at New Farm Park. As well as a remembrance service, the day featured speeches and a poetry reading by people from the trans community.
Among the speakers were trans activists Jade Oscar and Wednesday Felodese, who was recently awarded Young Trans Person of the Year by Many Genders One Voice.
Jade discussed the danger of just being alone in public as a gender non-confirming person. He mentioned the oft-quoted transgender life expectancy of 32, and noted that this figure refers specifically to trans women of colour in the US.
Both Jade and Wednesday spoke about how to define success as a trans person, and the idea that just living is enough to be successful.
“I’m grateful for TDoR existing but sad that it has to,” said Wednesday.
In Tasmania, community group Working It Out held small remembrance ceremonies in both Hobart and Launceston on Sunday evening.
Trans support group Ygender hosted a Melbourne event that featured music, dance, and poetry by trans and gender diverse people. Guest speakers included University of Melbourne student and transgender advocate Erik Ly, and 2015 GLBTI Person of the Year Sally Goldner.
In Sydney, The Gender Centre held a gathering at Harmony Park in Surry Hills, with Human Rights Commissioner Ed Santow appearing as keynote speaker.
The event opened with an afternoon unveiling of a TDoR plaque from the NSW Police. The plaque is dedicated to the trans and gender diverse community, and all vulnerable communities, bearing the message ‘Stand proud—the NSW Police Force stands with you’.
The involvement of NSW Police was somewhat controversial, due to the tumultuous relationship trans people around the world have had with police. This year, at least one trans person (Kayden Clarke, an autistic trans man in the US) was killed by police.
Katherine Cummings from The Gender Centre said she rejects a focus on “antipathies” between the community and the police.
“Going back into history won’t help,” she said, adding that we should instead focus on what we’re moving towards.
“The initiative of liaison officers in the police has made a big difference. People can go in and ask to speak to the GLLO [Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer] now.”
Wolfgramme believes that the relationship between the trans community and the police has improved over time, and the police initiative of the plaque is representative of this relationship.
The Sydney TDoR event also featured a ‘living library’, encouraging people to speak one-on-one with trans folks to promote understanding and empathy. The living library paired ‘books’—people with a story to tell—with ‘readers’ wanting to learn from them.
Queer Screen hosted an outdoor film screening of The Trans List documentary. Finally at dusk, a candlelight vigil at Taylor Square was hosted by Trans Sydney Pride.
In Perth, TransFolk of WA is holding a delayed TDoR event. This year the organisers agreed to move the date of the event back a week due to logistical issues.
“It is the meaning that matters, not the date,” said a representative of TransFolk WA.
The TDoR remembrance ceremony will be held at the Perth Cultural Centre, on the steps of the James Street Amphitheatre, at 5 pm on Sunday 27 November.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is an important day to the trans community. Thank you to all of the groups who organised events, and to everyone including our cis friends who took the time to honour those who were killed this year.
— Chris Pycroft (@chrispytweets) November 20, 2016