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We Remember. Transgender Day of Remembrance. An Organizer's Tool Kit.

Who am I in Relationship to Transgender Day of Remembrance?


Critical Questions for Organizers

by J Mase III

Many LGBTQ and other allied organizations have begun to recognize the importance of Transgender Day of Remembrance -- which is a wonderful thing! Yet, when entering into a leadership role around this observance, there are a few important questions to consider.

What are the trends in anti-transgender violence?

Over the last few years I have been to many vigils and funerals for LGBTQ folks who were murdered. Ninety-nine percent of the folks in those coffins and urns have been trans women of color under the age of 30. While anti-trans aggressors rarely understand the distinction between the L, the G, the B, and the T, some statisticians are beginning to.

According to the 2011 GLSEN School Climate survey of LGBTIA students, about 80% of transgender students felt physically unsafe at school making them the most likely to encounter or perceive a hostile environment out of those surveyed.

To break it down even further, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that trans women make up 53% of anti-LGBTQ murders (2012 Hate Violence Report). This means that transgender women are brutalized more than transgender men, gay men, lesbian women, and bisexual people put together.

Perceived gender -- and the way we are thought to portray gender “appropriately” -- has an impact on who gets targeted the most regarding physical violence. Your actual or perceived gender identity has huge implications on the violence you may experience in the world around you.

Over more than a decade, the names that are read on Transgender Day of Remembrance are overwhelmingly transgender women of color. In order to appropriately address this violence, we need to take these trends very seriously. 

Many transfeminine people are impacted daily by this violence differently than even their transmasculine counterparts as they move in a world that devalues womanhood. People of color are impacted by this violence differently that their non-POC counterparts as they move in a world that privileges whiteness. Differently-abled folks experience this violence uniquely as they move in a world that denies the personal agency of many based on perceived or actual physical and/or mental ability.

What is my relationship with the communities most impacted by anti-transgender violence?

The reality is that, even within LGBTQ community, the realities of trans people's lives are often ignored. Transgender Day of Remembrance is an opportunity for all of our communities to take an important step towards being honest about the emotional, spiritual and physical violence plaguing the trans* community.

As a trans person of color, it would be really easy for me to put myself in the center of TDOR. I could talk about the street harassment I get as a visibly gender-nonconforming person. I could talk about all the times I have been made to feel unwelcome and physically unsafe.

But the reality is that even though I am constantly at risk of criminalization just for being black and male, I am still less likely to be murdered than my trans woman/transfeminine counterparts. This has everything to do with factors like access to jobs and housing, passibility, misogyny, the policing of masculinity, and more.

In order to respond appropriately to these realities of anti-transgender violence, I have to be collaborating with trans women of color -- in general and especially on Transgender Day of Remembrance.  I need to ensure that the people I invite to speak or share stories can represent the complexity of the experiences we bring to the table -- and really reflect the lives we are mourning. I need to be supporting the voices of colleagues that may be silenced or ignored in other arenas the rest of the year.

Some good questions to ask yourself include:

  • How will your service be connected to the trans* community in your area?
  • Does it have to be you to lead this service and share these stories of loss?
  • Are there trans* organizations in your area that will be hosting a Transgender Day of Remembrance event?
  • If so, is it possible that you and/or your organization could support their efforts?
  • If there are no Transgender Day of Remembrance services in your area, do you understand why?

We need to do better for those in our community who are most at risk. Remember to keep the reverence of this day, but also think about how your efforts can build a more inclusive and dynamic resistance among the living. We must work to put out the fire, rather than merely watching the smoke rise.

I cannot wait for the amazing work, collaboration and healing I know that I will witness on Transgender Day of Remembrance -- and in the year that follows. Thank you for doing your part.


J Mase III is a Black/Trans/Queer/Rowdy-as-Hell Poet with a capital [P], currently based in New York City.


Home (TDOR Toolkit)
10 Things About TDOR
Critical Questions
Taking Us Seriously
The Role of Religion
Four Reasons NOT|  to host TDOR
Claiming Our Mourning,|  Claiming Our Resistance
More Resources:
Sample Services
The Names

A liturgical reading by Malcolm Himschoot

It is simply not enough that the world takes one day (or one month) to be aware that transgender people exist, have real life concerns, and are dying from both neglect and abuse.

A version of the Lord’s Prayer for those who might want to follow this simple way of praying for their transgender brothers, sisters, and siblings.

The Black-OUT awareness initiative is sponsored by Black Trans Men Inc (BTMi) and involves changing your facebook profile picture on November 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance. Show your support by being a part of this movement!

J Mase III asks us to make sure our efforts at inclusion are not merely symbolic gestures.

Basic Guide

Getting Started


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