Today, November 20th, is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day that is set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. Annual vigils involve activities including reading the names of victims, and first-person narration of their deaths by diverse speakers.
Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender, each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people. Many of these victims were women of colour, often living in poverty due to the interlocking oppressions experienced through their race, gender, class, as well as through experiences with transmisogyny.
“Transgender Day of Remembrance is often criticized for further privileging the voices of the already-privileged,” said COPE member Natasha Wolfe. “These voices are often held by white, upper-class, binary-gendered men and women who reflect the ‘role models’ that transgender youth have in the media. Many of these stories are about women of colour but are being told by white men of privilege. As a result, these victims are reduced to their gender identity and their experiences with intersected oppression are erased,” said Wolfe.
COPE Vancouver calls on everyone to work in solidarity with those who experience oppression due to transmisogyny and unearned structural power. Today is an opportunity to recognize how interlocking oppressions create barriers for transgender women in need, reinforcing discrimination while preventing universal access to necessary support services.