by Lauren Means and Diah March | photo submitted
Middle Tennessee State University’s (MTSU) LGBT+ student organization, MT Lambda, will observe Transgender Day Of Remembrance (TDOR) on Nov. 18 with an evening vigil and guest speaker in front of the Student Union. They will have an open meeting on Nov. 8 for TDOR preparations for anyone wanting to participate.
“TDOR is an important and somber date for the transgender community. MT Lambda is honored to be hosting the campus’ second TDOR. MT Lambda wants to show our commitment to the transgender community and the rights of transgender people around the world. We had an amazing turnout last year and we encourage transgender people and allies to come out that evening to this free event and honor the Trans community. We believe this is increasingly important as trans people fight for their right to be acknowledged and their right to exist in public,” said Kristopher Roberson, President of MT Lambda.
TDOR is a day that honors those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence. It is officially recognized annually on Nov. 20 at the culmination of Transgender Awareness Week. The week is dedicated “to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people and address the issues these communities face,” according to gladd.org.
TDOR was founded in 1999 in observance of the 1998 death of Rita Hester, an African American transwoman. It wasn’t known as TDOR originally; it was known as Remembering Our Dead and was begun by Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a web project and then as a vigil in San Francisco the following year as noted by hrc.org.
“The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence,” said Transgender Day of Remembrance Founder Ann Smith on gladd.org. “I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”
Vigils are now held across the globe. According to tdor.info, in 2010 remembrance events were held in 185 cities across more than 20 countries.
Where We Stand Today
Starting in 1996, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) started tracking hate violence against the LGBTQ+ population in the United States. According to an August 2017 study by the NCAVP, of the 36 hate violence related homicides, 19 victims were transgender or gender non-conforming people. Since then, the Human Rights Campaign now has a total death count of 21 for 2017.
Violent acts against the transgender population is not something from which our local community is immune.
On Nov. 12, 2014, Gizzy Fowler was murdered in North Nashville. According to The Advocate, police found Fowler deceased near the open passenger door of her car. Fowler was originally misidentified as “a man wearing woman’s clothing” by WKRN-TV, the local ABC affiliate station. She was repeatedly misidentified as male by news sources and her family. Dr. Marisa Richmond of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) responded to the murder by calling for awareness and acceptance of transgender individuals.
In an interview with Fox 17 News, Richmond said, “It starts with understanding the humanity of understanding the humanity of trans-people.”