Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is the final day of Transgender Awareness Week, and it’s a day to honor and mourn our transgender brothers, sisters, and non-binary/gender non-conforming siblings who all fell victim to acts of violence and hate in the past year. In 2020, we’ve seen the epidemic of violence against trans people, mostly trans women of color, reach a pinnacle in the United States with at least 37 lives taken (that we know of).

I had been serving in the United States Air Force for five years when the initial ban on transgender military service was lifted back in June 2016. I immediately started taking steps to live my truth and continue serving my country as my authentic self. Since then, I have attended, and/or participated in, a TDoR event every year. Some of these events I have attended listed how the individuals were murdered, and after going through hundreds of names and the manner in which they lost their lives, it is impossible not to feel like the entire transgender community is under attack around the world.

In 2020, there were at least 350 people killed in the trans community (that we know of), and this continues an incredibly-alarming upward trend since 2008 when the data collection effort was initiated. In the past 12 years, there have now been at least 3,664 lives lost in the transgender community.

In 2018, I reenlisted during Transgender Awareness Week. For the third time, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. My oath and allegiance to this country is an honor, which is why it also makes it even more infuriating and heart-wrenching to see Americans in the trans community being burned beyond recognition, hanged, executed at gun point, and stabbed to death. All the while, I am also seeing public policies proposed across the nation which aim to discriminate against transgender people, thus further attempting to dehumanize us and empower others to believe violence against trans people is acceptable.

I am so honored and humbled to be able to serve my country while also being an out, proud, and visible transgender service member. These last few years have been a tumultuous time for the trans community, and I feel very fortunate to continue having the privilege of putting on the uniform every day and demonstrating that trans people are more than capable of serving our nation.

My biggest hope is that there will come a day when trans people won’t be politicized, our equality isn’t debated, and there will no longer be the need for another TDoR.