November 19, 2021
November 20: the day when 22 years ago, the first Transgender Day of Remembrance was observed in memory of Rita Hesler, a Black transgender woman who was murdered in her apartment on November 28, 1998. Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to both memorialize victims of transphobic violence and bring attention to issues transgender individuals face, while highlighting the trans community’s continued battle for visibility.
This year, attacks against transgender or gender nonconforming individuals have been at an all-time high, with at least 47 people killed, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The victims have disproportionately been trans women of color, with Black and Latinx transgender women especially at risk. It’s crucial to honor victims of anti-trans violence, and to recognize and commemorate the experiences of transgender people in both the past and present.
How Can We Celebrate Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People?
In honor of this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, I asked transgender and gender nonconforming teens about who has inspired them, impacted their journeys and made them feel represented. Here is a list of who they mentioned.
Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson: two transgender women and trans rights activists involved in the 1969 Stonewall Riots.
“It’s important to remember that the greatest gay movement was started by Black and Latina trans women who rose up against the police and institutional power,” says Moxuan, 18, of NJ.
@beckettls: a content creator who makes TikTok and YouTube videos about LBGTQ+ topics.
“I found Beckett’s profile when I don’t think I was even questioning yet, and all of the knowledge he shared helped me feel good now,” says Nithan, 17, of CA.
ND Stevenson: an American cartoonist and the creator of Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, who recently came out as transmasculine.
“While [She-Ra and the Princesses of Power] is a children’s show, it highlights self-awareness and confidence in being true to yourself,” says Evelynn, 17, of NJ.
Candy Darling: a 1960s trans icon and actress who worked closely with artist Andy Warhol.
“I came across her from the Velvet Underground’s ‘Candy Says,’ which has become one of my favorite songs,” says Moxuan, 18, of NJ.
Mars Wright: a trans artist and activist, who promotes “the beauty of imperfection and the strength of radical honesty” through his artwork and social media presence.
“Mars helped because his entire thing is ‘trans joy is resistance.’ So now I don’t care if people realize I’m trans, I’m just gonna keep doing what I want,” says Nithan, 17, of CA.