Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual day of mourning that is observed every year on November 20th as a way to honor lives lost to anti-trans violence. The first TDOR was observed in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in honor of her friend Rita Hester, who was slain in an act of transphobic violence.
In a congregational setting, there are many ways to honor those whose lives have been lost to anti-trans violence. As we make plans for TDOR in our faith communities, we do so with the awareness that violence against trans people especially impacts trans women of color.
As we encourage our congregations to mark Trans Day of Remembrance as a time for lament and mourning, we can also build upon this time of lamentation to spur us into action: TDOR offers us an excellent opportunity to commit, or recommit, to educate our congregations about trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming inclusivity in our faith communities. Such educational efforts might include public statements of solidarity with trans people and/or discussion groups that address the crises of transphobia and racism, which create and contribute to anti-trans violence.
As part of our TDOR focus, let us can ourselves: how are we working toward inclusion and justice for trans people—particularly trans people of color—in our congregations, in our family and larger social networks, in our neighborhoods, and in our denominational and ecclesial bodies?
Take the opportunity In worship services to open up discussions that welcome expressions of grief and anger, and plan moments for pause and reflection. You may also choose to read the names of the dead in the service as is common in many TDOR memorials.
As we hold vigils and honor those we have lost, let us remember that language matters. The lives that we honor on TDOR were lost because of hatred and transphobia. It was not their status as trans, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming people that killed them. Rather, those who have been killed were killed because of – and by means of – anti-trans violence.
You do not need to have out trans people in your congregation in order to honor this sacred day of lament. And, if there are trans people in your congregation, they do not necessarily have to be the ones to plan the memorializing. Remember that the trans people in your congregation and community will likely be deeply feeling the weight of this anniversary. Make of TDOR an opportunity for solidarity.
As people of faith, we honor those whose lives have been cut short, and we call out and condemn the hatred and violence that stole them from us.
— Rev. Jakob Hero-Shaw | Coordinator of the CLGS Transgender Roundtable