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Transgender Day of Remembrance - Sunday, November 20

Transgender Day of Remembrance - Sunday, November 20

Sunday, November 20th marks the 13th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. Find out how you can join the vigils.

Sunday, November 20th marks the 13th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

On November 28, 1998, Boston police entered the apartment of Rita Hester, a 34-year-old woman active in the city’s transgender community. We know little about the lives of those officers, but surely, they never forgot what they saw that evening: Rita brutally stabbed 20 times in the chest.

One week later, activist and writer Gwendolyn Ann Smith decided to organize a candlelight vigil in Rita’s honor. About 250 people with red, wet eyes gathered: There, facing another cold New England winter and the dull brown of Boston, Smith launched the first Transgender Day of Remembrance.

This Sunday, November 20, the annual vigil turns thirteen. And for many, it’s still difficult to think of Rita as dead. It’s just as difficult not to get lost in silence when we can’t bear to think about it; about all of those people—327 in the United States alone—whose lives have been lost to anti-transgender violence. It leaves many of us, undoubtedly, scratching our heads.

But while Vigils certainly help raise awareness, anti-LGBT violence certainly is on the rise. In a 2010 Hate Violence Report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, violence against the LGBT community increased by 13% from 2009 to 2010. During that same time period, murder rates increased by 23% (70% were people of color and 44% were transgender women), according to GLAAD.

With numbers like these, all of us have an obligation to do something, anything, however big or small. Change is anything but impossible, for there is still value and love all over the world. We owe those two things to the dead, but not forgotten.

To find a TDOR EVENT in your city, visit

From Los Angeles, California to New York City, caring LGBT individuals and allies will be gathering around the country to remember those we've lost and how far we have to go to raise awareness and end LGBT-violence.

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