Transgender Day of Remembrance was first observed in 1998 to mark the transphobic murder of Rita Hester in the USA and honour other trans folk who lost their lives in violent circumstances. Since that time it has become the most well-known day recognising transgender people and our lives.

Unfortunately, violence is still too frequent in many countries. Turkey, for example, has unfortunately experienced at least five such crimes this year, with one family member openly confessing to the crime along lines of protecting the family’s honour.

Understandably, the difficult issues of violence, hatred and vilification, do however, often leave trans people and their loved ones feeling sad and uncomfortable on this day. So it’s worth thinking about the amazing positives trans people offer at the same time to balance these difficulties.

Trans people have just as much potential as anyone else to offer amazing contributions to our planet. My trans heroine — I’ll say respectfully a pioneering queer geek — is Lynn Conway. A quick Google tells her story: a computer genius who made a significant contribution to multiprocessing in computers that helped in getting us towards the computers we know and take for granted today.

Hers is a similar story to Alan Turing, the gay UK expert, in that both geniuses faced discrimination, although thankfully Lynn’s story has a happier ending.

Other well-known amazing trans people include Amanda Simpson, a senior technical advisor to the US Commerce Department and Amy Weston, who could soon be the USA’s first trans astronaut. Locally, Senior Constable Bernice Canty, trans police officer, received a bravery medal for remarkable actions in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

Just as important are the trans people who aren’t well known. They are people who never make headlines, but who simply lives their lives honestly in themselves and respectfully towards other people and do the best they can.

I think that’s definitely something to remember this Sunday.

Melbourne is having two great events to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Sunday, November 20 at 1pm, organised by Ygender. The event includes guest speakers, performance and discussion. Grattan Gardens Community Centre (Community Hall) 40 Grattan S, Prahran.
For details, click HERE

Thursday, November 24, 7pm Freedom Socialist Party. Solidarity Salon, 580 Sydney Rd, Brunswick.
For details, click HERE

By Sally Goldner, VGLRL treasurer and TransGender Victoria spokesperson.

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