Monica Roberts

TDOR Is A Memorial Event, Not A Party

Filed By Monica Roberts | November 20, 2010 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: memorial event, TDOR, trans violence, Transgender Day of Remembrance

One of the things that I've heard over and over from some quarters of the trans community about TDOR 2010.jpgtoday's worldwide celebration of the Transgender Day of Remembrance is that it's 'too somber' or 'depressing'.

Um, hello! It's a memorial to the people we've lost to anti-transgender violence. It's not supposed to be a happy-happy joy-joy event.

TDOR is designed to point out to the media the cost of anti-trans violence. It's an opportunity for our allies to do intersectional work with our community and support us on one of our issues.

And when I lost my friend Nakhia to violence while living in Louisville back in 2008, it became a way to show the family and friends of the departed transperson how much we love and respect that individual and provide some closure for all who knew the person.

It is not an opportunity for GLAAD, HRC or other gay and lesbian orgs to fundraise in our community for their coffers, or for college students or people to have an excuse to party. You want a party, then do so on the International Day of Trans Visibility or pick another day on the calendar such as TDOR founder Gwen Smith suggested, the August anniversary date of the 1966 Compton's Cafeteria riots..

TDOR exists as a day for us to memorialize the people that we've lost and get people to focus on the fact we are taking the brunt of violence aimed at the TBLG community. As a transperson of African descent, I damned sure want to keep it in the forefront of people's minds that 70% of the people we memorialize every year are transpeople of color.

There are 364 other days on the calendar (365 in a leap year) for partying. This isn't one of them.

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Thank you, AirMonica. As I found out, there are 179 trans people this year. Most of them are from Mexico on south. There are over 60 in Brazil alone. I think you may want to say that POC makes up 90% to 95%.

I know this is a controversial thing to say, and I'm not saying it to any one person in particular but...

I also have an issue when, on many years of the TDOR, people repeatedly wrote: "the trans men and women who've been murdered this year". But the vast majority of TDOR memorials don't even have a trans man's name on the list. Yet if you hear a lot of the memorials, Brandon Teena will be mentioned repeatedly as though his murder occurred just this year. I've even heard some people suggest that the two trans men attacked in college bathrooms in California and Texas (while shocking, neither of whom died) be included in the TDOR?!

Yes, I totally understand not wanting to erase trans men from the TDOR. There have been several deaths of trans men deaths since the TDOR began. But are their lives somehow worth more because there aren't enough trans man victims to make the list more 'inclusive?' And I understand wanting to involve trans men and transmasculine people in the memorial, but... place those who died THIS year front and center, they've been made invisible enough.

Don't make the women on the list's gender, economic status or race minimized or attempt to make "accessible" the names who are on that list. If you can't honor their passing and be involved with the issues surrounding their deaths because they aren't 'folks like you,' then don't attempt to cover that by trying to add white faces or trans man faces just because the TDOR doesn't seem personal enough to you.

Thank for saying this. I have been trying to get that through to other trans men for a while now, and not just with regards to the TDOR. There is a discussion about this at Tranifesto.

Kathy Padilla | November 20, 2010 12:44 PM


Thanks Monica

True it is about remembering those we have lost. But I think the event can and should grow. Party is too far but I think it can also be a time to bring the trans community together for remembrance as well as support and growth of the community. This year in Chicago was nice in the sense that there were 3 days of events. The "Night of Fallen Stars", then a group I organize for did a inter-generational mixer to bring the very much split older and younger trans communities together to not only meet with each other but also to build relationships b/c we have much to share between the generations, and finally we have the vigil. But I think what people forget and why they say it is depressing is that people consider memorials as remembering their death instead of as a place where one does mourn the loss of life but also should be where we remember their lives...

Additionally the problem with International Day of Trans Visibility is that many don't even know it exists.

And I won't even get started about those that use it for fundraising because I could go for pages.

@Aidan, same here about the peeps using it for fundraising purposes.

But I do like the idea of intersectional educational events focused on the trans community during that time

In Louisville the TDOR memorial service is paired with a week of trans educational events on the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and U of L campuses.

But the main thing is that we NEVER forget the people we've lost to anti-trans violence, and we continue to diligently work to eliminate the negative climate that enables it.

Agreed, Monica. What do they want? A cake and balloons?