Nov. 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance

Ava Leone | Web Content Editor | Nov. 20, 2019

GC PRIDE Alliance leads GC’s campus in recognizing Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on Nov. 20.

“There are trans people killed for no reason other than because they’re trans,” said GC Joanna Schwartz, a marketing professor. “It happens every year.”

Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded the internationally recognized Transgender Day of Remembrance in 1999 after the death of Rita Hester, a transgender woman brutally murdered because of her identity. Nov. 20 marks the twentieth anniversary of the first memoriam. 

The GC community recognizes this day in remembrance and honor of those who suffer from discrimination, violence and harassment due to anti-transgender violence and those who die each year from these hate crimes. 

In honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance, PRIDE Alliance will host a meeting about non-binary and transgender identities Tuesday, Nov. 19th at 7 p.m. in the HUB. The meeting is open to all and PRIDE Alliance hopes to inform students about the spectrum of gender identities and expressions. 

The group will also be tabling on Nov. 20th to increase awareness on campus by handing out informational packets about the historical impact of TDOR and advice on how to support those in the transgender community.

In 2017, according to tdor.info, 286 people around the world who identified as transgender were memorialized for their brutal murders due to anti-transgender hate. These crimes include stabbings, shootings, suicides, decapitations, burnings and drownings to name a few, just because these people identified as transgender. 

It is especially important for young people to recognize TDOR because peers who are transgender are prone to neglect from their families and friends due to their identity.

According to nationalhomeless.org, nearly 40% of homeless youth identified as LGBTQ+ in 2017, making these young people more likely to experience violence. 

March 31 marks a different type of recognition in honor of transgender and non-binary people, the Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), which celebrates trans awareness and their social contributions to society in a positive light. 

“We must be visible because it’s so damn easy to hate an abstraction,” Schwartz said in a Facebook post earlier this year. “I must be visible because for most of my life I couldn’t be. I had to hide. I lived in fear and shame and for the first time in my life, I actually have a job where I won’t be fired for admitting that I’m trans. That is a privilege that many trans people don’t have.” 

Schwartz’s presence on campus helps reduce stigmas about transgender people and the LGBTQ+ community, especially with the addition of her new LGBTQ+ marketing class, which will be taught for the second time during the Spring 2020 semester. Schwartz said that as more faculty, staff and students feel safe to come out, more people will understand that being transgender or non-binary is just another way to exist in the world. 

“Someone’s gender identity is only one small aspect of who they are, but for a lot of people that’s all they can see about them,” Schwartz said. 

Participating in social marches, donating to or working with nonprofits, using correct pronouns and exercising friendship are ways in which community members can be supportive of someone transitioning. It is crucial to remember that each coming out experience is unique for each person and one should avoid exposing information if confided in.

“Just like any person who comes out in any fashion, it is very important to honor that person and their journey,” said Courtney Anne Henry, a senior double majoring in sociology and liberal studies and president of GC’s PRIDE Alliance. “No two people who have come out or transitioned have the exact same experience.” 

Henry noted that there is no wrong way to come out and that it should be left up to that individual and how they wish to do it. 

“I was on the exec board for two years, first as publicist and then as diversity chairman, but now I’m just a member and attend events and meetings when I can,” said Sydney Main, a junior environmental science major. “[It] is a time to pause and remember and mourn all those who have been murdered/driven to suicide just for being who they are. It’s a reminder that we are nowhere near done in our fight for equality, and a motivation to fight harder.”

GC’s PRIDE Alliance works to build community, educate the campus about LGBTQ+ life and promote positive advocacy and activism, according to the GC webpage. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with sexual identity, nonprofits like All-1-Family, Georgia Equality, SONG, Someone Cares Atlanta, Sojourn, HRC, PFLAG and the Trevor Project are specifically tailored to different issues regarding discrimination, health care, counseling, food and clothing resources and more.  

GC also provides discrimination and non-discrimination complaint portals for students to notify the institution and fight for equality.