Two decades later, the Trans Day of Remembrance is more heartbreaking than ever

Two decades later, the Trans Day of Remembrance is more heartbreaking than ever
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This year will be the 20th Anniversary of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. I didn’t want to see this day come.

I didn’t want to be at another event where we read the names of those trans and gender non-conforming people who were murdered in the last year. I didn’t want to do this again.

But, here we are.

TDOR has become the one galvanizing event that has united trans people across the world. Memorials are held in many countries, cities, and even multiple locations within cities.

No place in the world is immune to the hate and violence toward trans people. We cry in harmony whenever a new name is added to the list.

I remember when I organized the first TDOR in Atlanta, in 2000. Sixteen people showed up at the Capitol Building. There were about twelve names to read. This year, there are 27 murders in just the US alone and hundreds across the world.

There are so many names that this year we will only read the names of the US victims. We ring a bell each time a name is read.

The sound tears into my heart.

The cruelty toward trans people has been escalating over the last several years, but has spiked drastically because of the actions of our current President.

In the last two years, this administration has said it is now legal to fire trans people. They made trans female prisoners live with male prisoners. They withdrew protections for transgender students. They will no longer investigate trans discrimination in public schools.

They tried to kick trans people out of the military. They rescinded protections for trans patients, and they said that health care workers can refuse to help trans patients.

The rest of the country sees this and in the minds of some people, it means we are not worthy to live. The President has stoked the fires of hatred toward our people and the Remembering Our Dead list keeps growing because of it.

And now, we see a memo that was leaked from the Health and Human Services that says they want to change the definition of gender in such a way as to erase our existence. #wontbeerased

The leader of our country is telling his followers that he doesn’t want us in his world, and those followers are listening.

This past year, there were three trans women of color murdered in Jacksonville, Florida alone. Police suspect a serial killer, but they haven’t caught anyone yet. Three other murders happened in other locations in Florida, making it the most dangerous place in America for trans people to live.

The killings in the US are bad enough, but in many cases, the trans person was misgendered and dead named by the police and the local media. We do not get respect in life and even less respect in death. There is no excuse for this to happen, but it does all the time.

For years, the majority of the murder victims in the US are trans people of color. Trans men and women of color face the highest level of discrimination of any demographic in the country.

It is an issue the trans community cannot solve by itself. We need help, but our cries mostly fall on deaf ears.

This situation now affects me personally. My wife and I have been adopted by a wonderful and talented trans woman of color. We started off as friends, but the friendship grew to become a family.

Now, she’s like a daughter to me and, I want to protect her from the hate in this world. She doesn’t live with us, so I worry about her safety as she goes through her daily routine.

Seeing those names and faces on the TDOR list frightens me even more than it ever has.

Make an effort to attend your local TDOR memorial. Most will happen on November 20, 2018. You don’t have to be trans to attend. We can use as many allies as we can.

Everyone I have known who has attended a Trans Day of Remembrance event for the first time has walked away with a new understanding of who we are. And, everyone will walk away with tears.

I still do.

Monica Helms is the creator of the trans flag. She has been a forceful voice on behalf of trans people since coming out after serving honorably in the United States Navy.

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