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Transgender Day of Remembrance, Nov. 20

Transgender Day of Remembrance

In a crazy year such as this one, we may miss out on major events that are not directly involved within our own communities. It feels like just yesterday was our first day under lock down in March. Huge events passed by us in the blink of an eye; St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Pride, Father’s Day, Independence Day and Halloween all came and went without the general fanfare of other years. As we quickly approach Thanksgiving, I request that you pause and take a moment to think about Nov. 20.

Since 1999, Nov. 20 has been known as the Transgender Day of Remembrance. This was started by transgender activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith to memorialize the unsolved murder of transgender woman and local educator on trans issues Rita Hester, who was stabbed 20 times in her apartment near Boston, Massachusetts, on November 28th, 1998. This day is specifically set aside to remember and honor all those who have been murdered in acts of anti-transgender violence. It is also used as a day of advocacy against acts of aggression and violence towards transgender individuals.

While the FBI annual report on hate crimes shows a slowing in crimes based on sexual orientation, crimes based on gender identity continue to rise year over year. Even worse, it is shown that these numbers could actually be underestimating the number of hate crimes against transgender individuals due to false reporting (such as failure to correctly portray these individuals as trans, failure to report these incidents as hate crimes or failure to report due to fear of their gender identity being revealed to family, friends, or employers). 

Transphobic bullying is also an important consideration. A national survey by GLSEN (formerly Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) found that 75% of transgender youth do not feel safe at school. As a result, transgender youth are found to have significantly lower GPA’s, were more likely to miss out on school out of fear for their safety and were less likely to plan on continuing their education. This bullying does not come exclusively from other students, however; as school officials have often been found to single out trans youth, punishing them for expressing their gender identity and refusing to respect their pronouns. These students, instead of focusing on their education, are forced to focus on avoiding punishment for identifying as themselves. This is compounded by disproportionate discipline, exclusion from school sports, and even victim-blaming trans youth for bullying.

So, what should you do? Take a second for a moment of silence to remember those we’ve lost. Light a candle in remembrance of these individuals. Afterwards, consider your impact going forward. Don’t be afraid to call out bad behavior when you see it. Don’t be an oppressor and don’t be a bully. Be unafraid to take action, as if that individual was your own family. The long and short of it, “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39). Basically, be a decent human being.

Additional information about the Transgender Day of Remembrance can be found at https://glaad.org, GLAAD is a media monitoring organization which was founded in protest against defamatory media coverage of LGBTQ+ individuals.

Local information and assistance can be found at the Newburgh LGBTQIA center. Despite being based in Newburgh, they cover the local area. They can be found at newburgh-center.org. Additionally, the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center is an important community resource in the area, hosting events and information at lgbtqcenter.org.

I would also like to take this opportunity to plug the Sexuality and Gender Alliance Club. Whether you are queer, questioning, or just an ally we would be glad to have you. Contact John "Jack" Morin, President of SAGA, at clubs.saga@sunyorange.edu.

If you are in need of assistance relating to issues of stress, bullying, or discrimination, please reach out to the wellness center at sunyorange.edu/wellness/index.html.

If you or someone you know is a trans individual in need of peer support, you can reach out to the TrevorLifeline at 866-488-7386 (thetrevorproject.org).

I quickly want to thank my friends Emma, Ruth, Ryker and Violet for giving me a wall of corrections for this document (Really? 93 corrections, Ruth?).

Lastly, the Transgender Day of Remembrance website, set up by Marti Abernathey to memorialize and give a name to those who have been killed in acts of transgender discrimination in the past year tdor.info.

Between Oct. 1, 2019 and Sept. 30, 2020, 47 lives (that we know of) were taken; this includes death by violence, by self-harm, in ways yet to be determined or from COVID-19. 

#saytheirnames

Mia Green, 29

Aerrion Burnett, 37

Gia Valentina Romualdo Rodríguez

Isabella Mia Lofton, 21

Elie Che, 23

Shelley Lynn Rose, 16

Kee Sam, 24

Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears "Rocky Rhone", 32

Queasha Hardy, 24

Tiffany Harris "Dior H Ova", 32

Marilyn Monroe Cazares, 22

Angela Martinez Gómez, 42

Summer Taylor, 24

Bree Black, 27

Shaki Peters, 32

Draya McCarty, 28

Merci Mack, 22

Tatiana Hall, 22

Brayla Stone, 17

Brian Powers "Eagle"

Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells, 27

Riah Milton, 25

Name Unknown, 16-20

Selena Reyes-Hernandez, 37

Tony McDade, 38

Jayne Thompson, 33

Helle Jae O’Regan, 20

Nina Pop, 28

Johanna Metzger

Henrietta Robinson, 79

Ashley Moore, 26

Lorena Borjas, 59

Lexi "Ebony" Sutton

Monica Diamond, 34

John Scott Devore/Scottlyn Kelly Devore, 51

Camila María Concepción, 28

Alex McCray, 22

Dustin Parker, 25

Mia Penny, 26

Yahira Nesby, 33

Alice Carter "Baby Alice", 35

Angel Rose Garcia, 21

Nikki Kuhnhausen, 17

Brianna “BB” Hill, 30

Daphne Dorman, 44

Christine Zephier, 23

Corbin Ray Bach, 23

(Source: pflag.org/blog/transgender-day-remembrance-2020)

John “Jack” Morin

President of SAGA



Elizabeth Carris-Swan
Mathematics
11/19/2020