Transgender Day of Remembrance: A Day to Honor the Dead and the Living

As we honor our friends and family we have lost to anti-transgender violence on Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), how can we ensure that transgender women of color are leading the LGBTQ anti-violence movement?

The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) knows that transgender people of color face severe and deadly violence at disproportionate rates compared with cisgender white LGBQ people. Multi-year data show us that transgender women of color are facing a violent epidemic.

In 2014 we mourned the tragic deaths of 10 transgender people of color across the U.S., nine of whom were transgender women of color: Kandy Hall, Zoraida Reyes, Yaz'min Shancez, Tiff Edwards, Mia Henderson, an unidentified gender-nonconforming person, Alejandra Leos, Aniya Parker, Tajshon Sherman, and Gizzy Fowler.

However, in response to the severe and deadly violence facing transgender people of color, we also see the tremendous leadership and vision of transgender people of color, especially transgender women of color. This leadership and vision seeks to end violence and shows us that another world is possible, a world in which all LGBTQ people live free of violence and the leadership of transgender women of color is honored and leading the LGBTQ anti-violence movement locally and nationally. To end this violence, we must support the leadership of those thriving and surviving in the face of this violence.

Nationally we see the tremendous leadership of transgender people of color like Bamby Salcedo in Los Angeles, organizing trans Latina women and transgender women of color on a national level; Milan Nicole of BreakOUT in New Orleans, fighting against the criminalization of LGBTQ youth; Brooke Cerda Guzmán in New York City, fighting tirelessly to ensure that the LGBTQ community honors the life of Islan Nettles, a young transgender woman of color who died in 2013 as a result of transphobic violence; Elliott Fukui of the Audre Lorde Project's TransJustice Program in New York City, creating and sustaining a political organizing space for and by trans people of color; LaLa Zannell of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, organizing LGBTQ people around issues of hate violence, sexual violence, intimate-partner violence and police violence; Angelica Ross, CEO of TransTech, a Chicago nonprofit that's providing job and tech training for transgender people; and CeCe McDonald in Minneapolis, speaking nationally about the criminalization of trans people, particularly trans people of color.

These are just a few people of the thousands of trans people of color who are changing the world every day and demanding a world in which transgender people of color are seen no longer as victims of violence but as agents of change who must be recognized and respected as leaders in the LGBTQ anti-violence movement.

Each TDoR we read the names of those who have lost their lives to brutal anti-trans violence. What would shift if, in addition, we read the names of those living and surviving to fight against this violence? If we were able to see justice as trans people of color living and creating a world in which transgender people are free of violence?

Will you join AVP and thousands of transgender people of color on TDoR to speak not just the names of those we lost but the names of those who are leading us toward justice?