Today marks the 12th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance around the world, a day when the LGBTQ and allied community honor those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.
The day of memorial was created in response to the murder of Rita Hester, a popular and outgoing transwoman, who was brutally stabbed at least 20 times in the chest in her Boston apartment by an unknown assailant in November 1998.
Hester’s death prompted community members to organize a candlelight vigil and march that December. Activists in San Francisco created the Transgender Day of Remembrance event in 1999 in her memory.
In the years that have followed since Hester’s murder, this day has been set aside each year to commemorate the lives of the victims by way of memorial services, vigils and other events to raise public awareness of hate crimes against transgendered people, crimes that are rarely reported in the mainstream media.
Of the more than 320 transgender deaths reported in the U.S. over the past 30 years, many of the victims are still unnamed and were brutally beaten and tortured — their deaths largely ignored.
Last year, President Obama signed hate crime legislation that extends protection to people based on sexual orientation, sealing a long-fought victory to gay advocates. The president spoke of a nation becoming a place where “we’re all free to live and love as we see fit.”
The federal law expands hate crimes to include those committed against people because of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Events and memorials at transgenderdor.org.