Simply for living as their true selves, including Harlem resident Islan Nettles, the 21-year-old African-American transgender woman who was viciously attacked in August by an assailant who shouted anti-LGBT slurs at her and her friends. Nettles died at Harlem Hospital several days after the assault and police are still sorting through varying witness accounts of the incident as they consider whom to charge and with what specific crime.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance began in 1999 when activists held a vigil to honor Boston activist, Rita Hester, a 34-year African American transgender woman who was brutally murdered the previous year in her apartment. Transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith organized what has grown into a worldwide commemoration of all those killed by anti-transgender violence. Hundreds of thousands of people across the globe now observe the solemn day.
“The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a somber occasion that allows the LGBT community an important opportunity to memorialize the thousands of transgender lives that have been lost to senseless violence,” said Michael Silverman, Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF). “We must never forget Rita Hester, Islan Nettles, and so many others who have been singled out for attack, based solely on who they were. Violence against transgender people must stop.”
The Transgender Day of Remembrance official website reports that on average more than one transgender person is murdered per month around the world. The vast majority are transgender women of color. The recent loss of Nettles in New York City and countless other transgender people worldwide, is a stark reminder of the need to eliminate anti-transgender violence and hatred in our society. The Transgender Day of Remembrance gives all of us the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to that mission.
To find the location of a Transgender Day of Remembrance event near you, visit: www.transgenderdor.org