November 20, 2021 Blog
A Call to Action on Transgender Remembrance Day
I write to you today as a part of the Alliance staff, but also as a proud member of the transgender community. I have so much reverence for the generations of trans people who have come before me, and I mourn the loss of those who have been the victims of fatal hatred and violence.
Today, November 20th, is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender advocate, held a vigil on this day in 1999 to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a trans woman who had been killed the year before. This is a moment for us to honor the vibrant trans lives we have lost as communities.
Trans people have always existed, under many names and with many varying degrees of visibility. As we are growing more visible and being accepted into more communities today in America, there has been a parallel backlash of violence and hate towards us. Transgender people are more than four times as likely to be victims of violent crime as cisgender people, according to the Williams Institute of UCLA. In any conversation about violence against transgender people, it is crucial to acknowledge that Black trans women make up a hugely disproportionate 73 percent of trans people killed. Our world is more beautiful with Black trans women in it, and we must stand in solidarity with them in the face of ignorance and hate.
At least 47 trans or gender non-conforming people have been killed in 2021, which is already three more reported murders than the previous record of 44 last year. Two times while I was writing this piece, I had to update this statistic because another trans person had been killed. That final number is still incomplete, because many deaths of transgender people go unreported or misreported. Access to guns enables this violence: guns are used in three out of every four murders of trans people. Transphobia itself is a complex problem to address, but violence against trans people is directly linked to access to firearms, which is something we have the power to influence.
I have included a list of a handful of organizations that dedicate themselves specifically to fighting for transgender people’s rights, and now is the right time to support them in whatever way is possible for each of us. At the Alliance, we will continue to fight for everyone’s right to safety from gun violence, especially groups, like transgender people, who have been disproportionately targeted and disenfranchised.
Trans Women of Color Collective – Mission: “To uplift the narratives, lived experiences and leadership of trans and gender non-conforming people of color, our families and comrades as we build towards collective liberation for all oppressed people.”
Sylvia Rivera Law Project – Mission: to “improve access to respectful and affirming social, health, and legal services for our communities” and “to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination, or violence”.
— Finch Brown is a fellow with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility