On November 20,  we come together to remember those in the transgender community who have lost their lives as a result of violence. Around the world, we come together and say their names. We give a voice to the voiceless one last time. This simple act, started in Massachusetts by a woman mourning the loss of a friend, has become a worldwide, annual day to remember, to mourn, and to move forward together. We take the time to come together and celebrate the lives of those who have left us, while also renewing our passion to make next year better.

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) has only been around since 1999, but in that time, thousands of transgender people have been killed around the world.

In 2019, 22 transgender Americans had their lights snuffed out because of hate and prejudice. These were not random or accidental. These people, mostly women of color, were targeted or attacked because of who they were.

Around the world, the story is the same. 369 transgender people were killed this year, with only 36 countries reporting. This does not include those who were misidentified or misgendered after death, adding insult to injury. Methods include shootings, stabbings, stoning and more.

How will we honor them? How will we do justice to those who have paid so dearly? For many, we come together to say their names and tell their stories, and ours. We light candles and we pray.

It is a day of empowerment. Those losses throughout the year are nothing short of terroristic acts, designed to incite fear. Intended to harm people who are sometimes seen as less. On TDOR, we take the first step in reminding ourselves, those who would harm us, and the world, that you cannot extinguish OUR light. You cannot silence us, and you cannot use fear to force us into the closet. We will rally together and find strength in one another.

So today we will say their names, eternally keeping them alive with us. But what will we do tomorrow? I propose that we will keep them with us as we step out with renewed vigor for the lives that we have been given. We will live, for ourselves and for them. For each of us that may look different, and that’s ok.

My path is not yours, but we must each continue to walk on our own as we remember those who cannot. So, come together, not as the last remembrance of their lives, but as their last reminder to live our own.