Remembrance: A Revolutionary Act
This Sunday, with profound grief, we observe Transgender Day of Remembrance. With last year named the deadliest year on record for transgender people, this annual observance honoring those who have lost their lives to violence could not be more critical. So far, at least 32 transgender and nonbinary people have been taken from us in 2022 — and this number is likely much higher since many of these murders are misreported, or not reported at all.
On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we say their names.
Tiffany Banks. Semaj Billingslea. Acey Morrison. Mya Allen. Dede Ricks. Maddie Hofmann. Aaron Lynch. Kandii Reed. Hayden Davis. Marisela Castro. Cherry Bush. Keshia Chanel Geter. Martasia Richmond. Kitty Monroe. Shawmaynè Giselle Marie. Brazil Johnson. Sasha Mason. Chanelika Y’Ella Dior Hemingway. Nedra Sequence Morris. Ray Muscat. Fern Feather. Ariyanna Mitchell. Miia Love Parker. Kenyatta “Kesha” Webster. Kathryn “Katie” Newhouse. Tatiana Labelle. Paloma Vazquez. Matthew Angelo Spampinato. Naomie Skinner. Cypress Ramos. Duval Princess. Amariey Lej.
Overwhelmingly, this list is comprised of transgender women of color — a phenomenon which is by no means new. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the murder of Gwen Araujo, a 17-year-old Alameda County woman of color whom a group of men murdered after discovering that she was transgender. Her death prompted widespread outrage and, critically, action: In the following year, the Gwen Araujo Memorial Fund for Transgender Education was established at Horizons Foundation to support school-based programs that promote understanding of transgender issues.
Twenty years later, the need to act remains critical. In the face of “Don’t Say Gay” bills, bathroom legislation, and attempts to withhold medical care and punish athletes, I urge us all to act. For whatever you’ve already done or are doing, thank you. Yet for all of us, whatever we may or may not have done, it continues to be our shared responsibility to fight for our community — to fight against not just homophobia, but racism and transphobia and misogyny as well.
If that means learning about transgender people and issues, please take the time to do so by reviewing resources such as those provided by organizations like the ACLU, HRC, and GLAAD. In honor of Gwen Araujo, and of each and every trans person who has lost their life, please take what you learn and use it as an advocate by supporting trans organizations, holding legislators to account on trans-related issues, or sharing your conviction with others who might lack information or understanding.
It is up to us to fight for our community, and we must work together to end the epidemic of violence facing the transgender community. Thank you for remembering our trans siblings on this day. Now – and every day – it’s time to fight for them.