As I enter higher education again, I’m aware of how Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is still a new thing in some communities. It’s a difficult “holiday” to observe appropriately. In fact, I went so far as to write an article on why you might NOT want to host a Transgender Day of Remembrance event (Transfaith, previously Believe Out Loud).
It is also important that TDOR be connected to on-going commitments to transgender people, generally, and Black transgender women, specifically. As J Mase III put it, your TDOR event should not be a “one-night stand.” Please do not let TDOR be, simply, a performative step on a liberal checklist of exotic holidays.
TDOR is more like a funeral than a festival (more about what TDOR is and isn’t). If you disrespect our beloved dead, our transcestors, our fresh losses, you may do significant harm to your relationship with transgender communities. If your context is the United States, then your TDOR observance should be a call to relationship, a call to action, a call to make the world a more humane place for Black transgender women, specifically.
Centering transgender leaders generally is not enough to make a TDOR event appropriate. In the United States, it is critical to center the voices of Black transgender women specifically and transgender women of color more generally. Acknowledging anti-transgender murders (which is the point of TDOR) means that we need to notice that these murders overwhelmingly impact young, Black transgender women (mic.com).
Please understand that, no matter how well-meaning, conversations about the prevalence of death among Black transgender women can be triggering, particularly for those who are closest to this violence. It is essential to keep this aspect of programming in mind when planning your event. How triggering is the frame of your program? How will you be prepared to be present to folk who are triggered during your program? Remember, religious organizations are often part of the problem. so think about how your religious language is playing out, also.
If you do not already have Black transgender women in positions of leadership in your organization, then it is critical that you have a budget for your event: to compensate speakers and/or make donations to organizations that are organized to impact the lives of Black transgender women. Do not ask Black transgender women to donate their labor to make your organization look good on this issue.
I know, I know, you don’t have much money. But how is your TDOR observance actually going to impact the lives of Black transgender women? How is it going to be something other than trauma porn and emotional catharsis for the people who are furthest away from this violence?
Tangible support for Black transgender people often takes the shape of mutual aid. Best practices are that your planning for TDOR should include researching where Black trans women congregate in your area or region so that you can provide tangible support to their work.
Here are some various examples:
- Minister Bobbie Jean Baker Memorial Fund (via Transfaith)
- Monica Roberts Memorial Fund (via BTWi)
- Black Trans Travel Fund
- House Lives Matter
- The Okra Project
This content was compiled by Mx Chris Paige on October 10, 2020. Please be in touch with questions and concerns.