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Three Transgender Day of Remembrance events to honor lives lost to violence, and why you should attend 

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Activists originally established International Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20 to honor the transgender people who have died as victims of hate-motivated violence, or taken their own lives. However, this day will also prove an appropriate time to remember and honor the whole transgender community, which needs allies now more than ever.

The violence that took the lives of 29 transgender people in 2017 and at least 22 so far this year (according to the Human Rights Campaign) affects every transgender person, whether or not they have been a victim of violent crime themselves. These deaths send ripples of fear and heartache throughout the community, and they represent only a piece of what transgender people must face each day.

The FBI’s most recent hate crime statistics show that 1.9 percent of hate crimes in 2017 were motivated by gender identity. Many such crimes go unreported, or unidentified as hate crimes; the actual numbers likely skew larger. Hate crimes as a whole have risen 17 percent since 2016.

At the root of these crimes, we find the rhetoric: ignorant beliefs about transgender identities that the Trump administration itself has echoed. The Department of Health and Human Services’ memo leaked to The New York Times in October — which suggests the U.S. government adopt a strict definition of gender based on biological characteristics — casts a dark shadow over transgender individuals who already have to fight prejudice to secure accurate identification and equality in housing, employment and other areas of life.

These beliefs coming from our federal government send a message to cisgender Americans that transgender people are inherently deceitful, masquerading as a sex that was not assigned to them at birth. Such a mischaracterization breeds fear, which breeds hate, which breeds violence, and transgender people have been targeted by that hateful rhetoric far too often. One death would be too many. One hate crime would be too many. Taken together with daily threats to life and livelihood, the trauma to the transgender and wider LGBTQ community can be significant.

So on Nov. 20, and every day before and every day after, remember the transgender community — not just the people we have lost, but the millions of friends, family, neighbors and strangers who must fight for their right to exist every day of their lives.

If you want to show up in support and solidarity with the transgender community on and around the Transgender Day of Remembrance, here are a few local events held in honor.

 

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