Remembering Our Fallen Siblings: Trans Day of Remembrance

Posted on November 20, 2019

Shayna Gutcho, W&M Libraries Mosaic Fellow, explains the importance of Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual culmination to Transgender Awareness Week. Read on to learn some everyday practices related to good allyship and to explore trans narratives available at the Special Collections Research Center.

Every November 20, the William & Mary community—and the United States at large—remember those a part of the transgender and gender non-conforming community who have died due to violence. While Transgender Day of Remembrance started in 1999,1 gender non-conforming people have been around for all of history and often have faced violence and discrimination for deviating from prescribed societal gender norms.

Handmade blue denim zippered coin purse. A white stretch of fabric across the purse reads, "THEY / THEM" in bold black lettering.
"They/Them" handmade coin pouch, a recent acquisition

Popular media, like Transparent, Orange is the New Black, and Pose, have increased representation of trans individuals in mainstream culture, but the safety and civil rights of the trans community are still not guaranteed.

In 2019, trans people, in particular trans women of color, face countless obstacles, both explicit and implicit, in their everyday lives. Twenty-six states—Virginia included—permit employers to fire employees for being transgender.2 Virginia likewise lacks legislation forbidding housing discrimination, lending discrimination, and private health insurance and Medicaid discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.3

Equally important, we must acknowledge that intersecting identities result in different lived experiences for certain trans people. In the United States the average life expectancy for a trans woman of color is only 30-35 years old.4 This appalling statistic reminds us of the necessity of allyship and the importance of using our power and privilege to advocate for those who are not afforded the same safety and freedoms we are.

Looking for some everyday strategies for practicing trans allyship? Here are some of our recommendations:  

  1. Involve yourself with local LGBTQ+ organizations. Campus organizations include the William & Mary Rainbow Coalition and the Lambda Alliance.
  2. Donate gently used clothes to the Trans Locker (Campus Center, room 20). This campus resource, an initiative of the Center for Student Diversity, allows trans students the opportunity to find clothing that matches their gender expression without facing obstacles like access, cost, and bias.
  3. Consult online resources, such as the Human Rights Campaign, The Gender Book, Trans Student Educational Resources, and GLAAD, to increase your knowledge of trans issues—on a local, state, federal, or global scale.
  4. Read material by trans people. Giving space for trans and gender non-conforming to share their stories—their lives, struggles, and liberation—is one of the most important responsibilities of an ally. The best way to receive these stories is with full attention and an understanding of mutual trust and support.

The Special Collections Research Center is fortunate to have numerous trans narratives in our holdings. Below, we share some of our rare books written by, for, and about trans people. Today, Trans Day of Remembrance, we encourage you to stop by our reading room to explore these stories—and keep them with you in your heart.

Cover of TransCuba, featuring two trans Cuban individuals sitting close together on a red sofa. The subjects stare at the camera and wear classy outfits, including layered jewelry.
TransCuba, from trans photographer Mariette Pathy Allen, compiles portraits and oral histories of the trans community in Cuba
Two-page spread from Transgender Healthcare Blues, spotlighting biases in the healthcare industry when it comes to trans health. The left page recreates a text conversation in which a nurse misgenders the recipient even after they state they're trans. The right page details worries and fears that manifest in the writer's mind when it comes to receiving healthcare as a trans patient.
Excerpt from Transgender Healthcare Blues, a recent zine acquisition
Two juxtaposed images. On the left is the cover of Sympathetic Little Monster by Cameron Awkward-Rich, a small light blue chapbook. On the right is an excerpt from a poem in the volume, titled "(Vagina Monologue)".
Poem from Sympathetic Little Monster by Cameron Awkward-Rich, a recent acquisition
Cover of Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography. The dusk jacket is designed to look as if it has been torn. Through the tear, Jorgensen's face emerges.
Autobiography of Christine Jorgensen, the first American person to become widely known for receiving gender affirming surgery
Cover of Bunny, an artist's book by Aiden GD Moore. An illustration of a rabbit appearing to gaze at its reflection in a large container of water decorates the cover. A heart colored with the stripes of the trans flag is beside the author's name.
Bunny, an artist's book and comic by Aiden GD Moore

 

In memory of the trans and gender non-conforming individuals killed this year by violence.5

Rest in Power:

            Dana Martin, 31

            Jazzaline Ware, 34

            Ashanti Carmon, 27

            Claire Legato, 21

            Muhlaysia Booker, 23

            Michelle “Tamika” Washington, 40

            Paris Cameron, 20

            Chynal Lindsey, 26

            Chanel Spurlock, 23

            Zoe Spears, 23

            Brooklyn Lindsey, 32

            Denali Berries Stuckey, 29

            Tracey Single, 22

            Bubba Walker, 55

            Kiki Fantroy, 21

            Jordan Cofer, 22

            Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, 24

            Bailey Reeves, 17

            Bee Love Slater, 23

            Jamagio Jamar Berryman, 30

            Itali Marlowe, 29

            Brianna “BB” Hill, 30

            Johana ‘Joa’ Medina, 25

            Layleen Polanco, 27


References:

1. Transgender Day of Remembrance Nov 20. (n.d.) GLAAD. Retrieved from https://www.glaad.org/tdor

2. Non-Discrimination Laws. (2019). Movement Advancement Project. Retrieved from http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/non_discrimination_laws

3. Virginia’s Equality Profile. (2019). Movement Advancement Project. Retrieved from http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality_maps/profile_state/VA.

4. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (2014). An Overview of Violence Against LGBTI Persons: A Registry Documenting Acts of Violence. IACHR. 1-6. Retrieved from https://www.oas.org/en/iachr/lgtbi/docs/Annex-Registry-Violence-LGBTI.pdf.

5. Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2019. (2019). Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved from https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-transgender-community-in-2019.