By Claire M. McCown, M.P.S.
Showing Up & Showing Support: Allyship 101 on TDOR
Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual day of observance honoring the lives of those lost to anti-transgender violence. TDOR is held on November 20th and was started in 1998 after a Black transgender woman, Rita Hester, was murdered in her Boston apartment. Similar to the murders of many other transgender and gender nonconforming (TG/GNC) people, Rita Hester’s murder remains unsolved. While activist organizations like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) publish an annual TDOR list of those murdered over the preceding year, these hate crime statistics likely underreport the number of murders. Many TG/GNC people are misgendered postmortem and their murders are not acknowledged as hate crimes. The murder of TG/GNC people are overwhelmingly racialized as well, with Black transgender women comprising the majority of those slain. This threatening intersection of transphobia, misogyny, and racism place transgender women of color at the greatest risk for violence and victimization.
Each year, communities gather together to celebrate the lives of TG/GNC folks who have died. Many communities hold candlelight vigils or marches, roundtable discussions, art displays, or performances. Others use the day to hold political rallies and read-ins. Some choose to show their activism and support by taking to social media and posting TG/GNC-affirming messages and artwork. However you choose to show your support, it is important to be intentional with the way you show up for the TG/GNC people in your life.
Community Building & TDOR
The events held by the LGBTQ+ Center , in addition to others held nationwide, serve to build community among TG/GNC individuals, sexual and gender minoritized folx, and allies with different identities. While the day itself is a sobering reminder of the violence and victimization faced by many non-cisgender people, it also serves as a vehicle for community empowerment and engagement. Many victims of anti-transgender violence are misgendered postmortem by police, family members, and media outlets, among others. TDOR observances often dedicate a portion of their event time to name each TG/GNC person who has been murdered over the past year. Naming each person who has been murdered helps us to remember those lost and also corrects potential misgendering of the victim. In addition to providing an In Memoriam list for those lost, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) publishes an annual report on November 20th outlining current safety concerns for TG/GNC people.
Interested in getting connected to the community? HRC has you covered with opportunities for involvement .
Show your Allyship!
This can be done in small and big ways. A great first step is familiarizing yourself with different pronouns. While some people use “she” or “he,” many other pronouns exist and may be a better fit for people you meet. Some nonbinary people, for example, use the pronoun “they,” while others may use “ze” or ask that you simply use their name when referring to them. When you meet new people, try introducing yourself with your own pronouns. This helps signal to other people that you will use and respect the pronouns that they use.
Another important piece of allyship is making sure that you do your own research on transgender experiences. This is especially important if you have questions about medical transitions. Asking these sorts of questions to TG/GNC folks can be intrusive and offensive so remember that you can always Google your question in the privacy of your own home! You can also find answers to some of your questions on the American Psychological Association’s (APA) website.
When on campus or at work, take note of the policies each setting has regarding
inclusivity. Does the classroom, building, or workspace have inclusive signage
for folks of different identities? Is there a gender-inclusive restroom on site?
If not, you may be able to affect change by speaking to your professor or employer
about providing equitable options for non-cisgender individuals. You can also
draft a petition and gather signatures to request equitable options for folks
of diverse gender identities. Finally, you can demonstrate allyship by joining
TG/GNC supportive organizations and promoting equity at the local, regional,
and national level.
What to Do
TDOR can be a difficult day for a lot of folks because of the reminder it serves of the ongoing violence against TG/GNC people. People you care about who identify as TG/GNC may need extra support on TDOR to feel connected and supported on the day. While remembering those lost is an integral part of the day, it’s also important to celebrate the lives of TG/GNC people, recognize community strength, and stay connected to folks you care about. Looking to commemorate the day with folks in the community? Here are some options on how to hold space and show support:
- You can watch some TG/GNC-centered movies to celebrate the lives of non-cisgender folks
- Attend the candlelight vigil hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation ( GLAAD) on Twitter on November 20th
- Share your support on social media by posting TG/GNC affirming articles and artwork
- Donate to organizations that advocate for TG/GNC rights
- Listen and learn from the stories of survivors
Looking for more support? Carruth can help!
Meet the author
Claire is a 3rd year doctoral candidate in Counseling Psychology at WVU. She is an advanced supervised trainee at the Carruth Center, where she provides individual counseling services to students. Claire received her master’s degree in Clinical Psychological Science from the University of Maryland. When Claire isn’t in class or at Carruth, you can find her working out, singing badly to songs by her favorite metal bands in her car, and petting as many dogs as possible.