On This Transgender Day of Remembrance, a New Campaign Reminds Us That Trans Is Phenomenal, Too

Illustration for article titled On This Transgender Day of Remembrance, a New Campaign Reminds Us That Trans Is Phenomenal, Too
Photo: Phenomenal

To date, 22 trans or gender-nonconforming people have been murdered in 2019; a majority of them black trans women. Today, Wednesday, Nov. 20, is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a time to not only mourn the lives we’ve lost, but to renew our focus on stemming the epidemic of transphobic violence and better respect and protect trans lives within our already endangered black community.


“Every year, we still find ourselves with a list of people who have been violently murdered for simply being themselves,” the day’s founder, Gwendolyn Ann Smith, wrote for HuffPost in 2012. “This day we mourn our losses and we honor our precious dead—tomorrow and every other day, we shall continue to fight for the living.”

Doing its part to advance respect and awareness of all women, on this Transgender Day of Remembrance the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign is launching a new campaign called “Phenomenally Trans” to “honor the lives lost as a result of anti-trans violence,” according to a release from the action campaign and T-shirt brand.

Today, over 100 influencers and celebrities, including Laverne Cox, Indya Moore and more will post on social media while wearing the brand’s “Phenomenally Trans” shirt, available now on the action campaign’s site for $35. All proceeds benefit TGI Justice Project, “a group of transgender, gender variant and intersex people—inside and outside of prisons, jails and detention centers—creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom,” according to its site.

But like us, the Phenomenal campaign wants to make clear that fighting for trans rights aren’t solely the job of a marginalized community, but a human right we should all collectively be fighting for.

“[I]t’s up to each of us to address the wave of gender-based violence so all trans people can live phenomenally and free,” reads their press release.


And for those confused about transgender identities or the origin and tremendous importance of Transgender Day of Remembrance, as Smith further explained in her op-ed:

Transgender people are those whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. In 1999, a handful of transgender people sought to highlight the need for awareness around anti-transgender violence, which refers to attacks against people who are perceived as transgender—regardless of how one may personally identify. To that end, we held the first Transgender Day of Remembrance event in the Castro district of San Francisco, holding the names of those we’d lost in silent testimony...

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is not an event for fundraisers and beer busts. It’s not an event we “celebrate.” It is not a quick and easy one-day way for organizations to get credit for their support of the transgender community. It’s not something to trot out on the 20th of November and forget about. We should be working every day for all of us, living and dead.

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?


"Not a real" DrDonna

One thing I’ll point out is that that number-22-is the *minimum* number, and the actual number is almost certainly higher. People like to play Armchair Statistician when we talk about the murders of trans folks, and conveniently ignore that a lot of trans folks who are murdered get categorized as “crossdressers” or conveniently swept under the rug entirely.

There’s also the worst insult, which is when a family decides to posthumously shove their lost child (usually) back into the closet, dress them up in clothes they hated and bury them under their dead name. That happens with depressing regularity, and it’s a tragedy in its own right.