Transgender Day of Remembrance is an opportunity for communities to come together and remember transgender people, gender-variant individuals, and those perceived to be transgender who have been murdered because of hate.
Transgender Day of Remembrance, Tel Aviv, 2016
Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed in recognition of the 1998 murder of Rita Hester. Rita was a highly visible member of the transgender community in her native Boston, MA where she worked locally on education around transgender issues. In 1999, one year after Rita’s murder, advocate and writer Gwendolyn Ann Smith coordinated a vigil in Rita’s honor. The vigil commemorated not only Rita, but all who were tragically lost to anti-transgender violence.
In addition to the vigil, Smith launched the Transgender Day of Remembrance website to recognize and remember those whose lives have been lost to anti-transgender violence. Organizations throughout the world — from Groupe Activiste Trans in Paris to Human Rights Commission of Tel Aviv in Israel — have since taken to recognizing the day.
Vigils are held across the globe. Last year, more than 200 people gathered inside the auditorium of the Tel Aviv Gay Center in Israel to honor those who lost their lives to anti-trans violence.
The names and pictures of trans victims of violence flashed onto a screen as trans Israelis from religious backgrounds spoke. Members of the Israeli Defense Forces who were wearing their uniforms were among those who attended the event.
“Everything we do is a small step against transphobia,” said Stephanie Sharon, a trans woman who spoke about a friend who took her own life.
This year in Tel Aviv, a vigil will be held in Gan Meir Park. It is organized by Ma’avarim, an organization that was established with the goal to empower and support members of the trans community, facilitating both personal and social change.