Nov. 20 is the 19th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, on which we as a community pause to remember trans folks whose lives were taken by anti-transgender violence and prejudice. Nov. 20 is also home to the Transgender Day of Resilience, an art-based movement geared primarily toward helping trans people of color not just "survive, but thrive," since black and latinx folks are most often the targets of anti-trans violence. Both incarnations of the day are completely necessary, especially in 2017, when at least 25 trans people have been murdered so far, making it the deadliest year for trans folks on record.
On this year's day of remembrance and resilience, we should not just be memorializing the people we've already lost. We should be actively striving to prevent more losses. There are plenty of intentional, inclusive, and intersectional ways for trans folks and allies alike to observe Trans Day of Remembrance and Trans Day of Resilience.
Check out the list below, and remember Nov. 20 should be about drawing all the folks in the trans community together, with the most privileged of us using our platforms to uplift everyone else.
1. Vocally Support Transgender People
This may seem like a basic tenet of Nov. 20, but you'd be surprised how many people often don't think to reach out to their trans friends and family members. You don't have to make a big deal out of it, but a simple, "Hey, I'm thinking about you," or a donation to a trans organization in their name can be a huge gesture. And an even bigger one can be a message of support posted on your social media that will let everyone on your friends list — particularly those who may be trans and closeted — know that you're there for them (if this is safe for you to do so). Of course, your support shouldn't be a one-day-only deal, so if you haven't been vocally, actively supporting trans people in your life, Nov. 20 is a good day to start a genuine, continuing action.
2. Amplify The Voices Of Transgender People of Color
As mentioned above, trans people of color face disproportionately high levels of anti-trans violence, including homicide and sexual assault. Everyone, but especially white trans people, needs to not only embrace trans people of color, but uplift their voices on Nov. 20 and every day beyond. Trans and queer people of color often face unique sets of challenges that stem from white supremacy, and in order to be a true trans advocate, you need to advocate for every trans person. That includes stopping and listening when trans people of color share their particular frustrations both with the trans community and advocacy, and the world at large. On Nov. 20, you can support trans people of color by boosting the Trans Day of Resilience artwork and donating to organizations like the Trans Women of Color Collective.
3. Support Incarcerated Trans Folks
Chelsea Manning's treatment in the U.S. prison system brought to light for many people the harsh realities that incarcerated trans folks face. Manning, like countless other trans women, was forced into a men's prison, and had to seek permission to not only obtain transition treatment like hormone replacement therapy, but also permission to present in a way consistent with her gender identity, a plea that was rejected. Incarceration has been getting a foothold in activist spaces as people realize it's a concern for intersectional feminists, but it's especially important to remember incarcerated trans people, as they are often left out of these discussions, or unable to take part.
You can support incarcerated trans folks on Nov. 20 by writing to a trans prisoner through the organizations like the Prisoner Correspondence Project. You can also get involved with the Trans Prisoner Day of Action and Solidarity, which takes place Jan. 22, but requires prep from volunteers all year round.
4. Support Trans Lifeline
Trans Lifeline is a nonprofit support hotline dedicated exclusively to the transgender community, and kept afloat entirely by donations. While there are other support hotlines that serve the queer community, like The Trevor Project and the LGBT National Help Center, Trans Lifeline works solely with trans-identified volunteers, so callers will always be speaking with another trans person. It's a vital resource for trans people who have mental illnesses or trans people who are stuck in toxic living situations with little or no support. Trans Lifeline is currently raising $25,000 to cover November expenses, and still has just over 59 percent of that goal left to go. You can donate here.
5. Donate To Organizations Supporting Trans Youth
Transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, who in 2015 died by suicide at 17, was one of thousands of trans teens who suffer prejudice in their own homes. For trans teens who are closeted at home and maybe even from everyone, online support networks are vital. That includes social media like Twitter and Tumblr, but also includes groups like the LGBT National Help Center's Trans Teens online chat group, which meets weekly. Donating your money, your time, and your skills to orgs like the Help Center and the Trans Youth Support Network can help some of the most vulnerable members of the trans community know they're loved and welcomed.
One physical object many trans youth need but often can't get ahold of because of price or logistics is a binder, which helps folks flatten their chests and often costs between $50 and $100. Luckily there are many organizations that help trans youths get binders for free or at a low cost. You can donate a binder to organizations like the TransActive Gender Center, Point 5CC, and Point of Pride. Also, check out your local area to see if any youth shelters are looking for binders.
6. Get Involved Helping Trans Survivors Of Domestic Violence
Transgender people are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of domestic violence, especially trans people who are also sex workers. An estimated 67 percent of trans sex workers face violence, and considering many domestic violence and emergency shelters often won't accept trans people, they struggle to find support and protection. One woman tweeted in May 2017 about her experiences at a Salvation Army shelter, and her story is unfortunately far from unusual.
Domestic Shelters has a search function that will allow you to find a trans-friendly shelter in your area. Seek them out and donate not just money, but needed supplies, a home-cooked meal, or a genuine, nonjudgmental listening ear.
7. Speak Up For Trans Service Members
Though a judge has blocked the Trump administration's first attempt to remove trans servicemembers from the military, trans people still face obstacles when it comes to serving their country, and trans soldiers are in a very precarious position. The National Center for Trans Equality estimates there are more than 134,000 transgender veterans in the U.S., and more than 15,000 transgender active servicemembers. These folks face problems with "obtaining updated service records that do not out them as transgender, and from receiving VA coverage of necessary medical procedures," the Center reported on its website.
Speaking up in defense of trans service members is a more than worthy way to honor Trans Day of Remembrance and Trans Day of Resilience. Call your local representatives and engage with them. Tell them why trans service members deserve just as much honor, support, and recognition as cisgender soldiers. You can also donate to organizations who are actively fighting the ban and its unavoidable future incarnations. Those orgs include the ACLU, which you can donate to here, and the Human Rights Campaign, which you can donate to here. There's also an extensive list of organizations fighting for trans rights that you can see and donate to here.
There are literally hundreds of other actions to take part in to support trans folks, but the key is to recognize and amplify voices from different perspectives from your own. It's vitally important not to forget the somber origins of the Trans Day of Remembrance. But it's also important that all of us, trans and cis, make Nov. 20 a day to step up for the most vulnerable members of the trans community — of all identities — and let all trans people know, with words, time, and actions, that we are not alone.