Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is a solemn event where transgender people all over the world hold vigils in their respective communities to remember those of our transgender family who were lost due to violent acts. It is held on November 20th each year. This article on wikipedia has more information on the origin and observance of the event.

Our Candlelight Vigil for 2021

Below are the remarks, and video presentation from TransFamily of NWPA’s Transgender Day of Remembrance Candlelight Vigil held on November 20th, 2021 in Erie Pennsylvania’s Griswold Park.

Opening remarks given by Rose Surma, written by Dana Rasmussen:

Thank you all for attending our Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil this afternoon/evening.
For those who do not know, this is a day of mourning for transgender communities around the world. It is a day where we remember the transgender, non-binary, & gender non-conforming people who have been killed by violent means since last November 20th.

We hold these vigils for two main reasons.

The first of these is to bring attention to the fact that trans people are being killed at a disproportionate rate compared to other members of LGBTQ+ communities. Most of the people we will memorialize tonight were killed because of who they were. They were mostly people of color. Some were sex workers, who did that work because discriminatory practices have kept them from holding a regular job. Some were homeless or struggled to maintain regular housing. Some were disowned and kicked out by their families. Some were LGBTQ+ advocates who worked hard to improve the lives of others like themselves. Some of their families will never have justice served due to LGBTQ+ panic defenses still being allowed as a legal defense argument.

The youngest was just 16 years old. He and his 22-year-old sibling were killed here in western Pennsylvania by their mother. Three others were also killed here in Pennsylvania. One in a domestic violence attack, one as the result of a robbery, and another in a possible hate crime just a few short days ago.

The oldest was a 55-year-old woman who served in a religious organization which has a known history of not accepting transgender individuals.

Some were killed by their dates or a significant other who became too embarrassed to be associated with a trans person.

In short, trans people are being killed primarily because of hatred, bigotry, and embarrassment. We plead with everyone in attendance to pay attention to the violence around them and when you are safely able, call it out. Stand up for those who are impacted most by these forms of hate.

Last year we changed how we present this event to highlight the person lost and not the violent act which took them. The TransFamily Board of Directors has decided that we will continue to remember our siblings in this way. This brings us to the second reason we hold vigils like this. We remember those killed because they were our siblings. They were people just like you and me. They deserve to be remembered for who they were.

It takes a lot of effort to compile the list of those lost. This is a task made difficult by some organizations refusing to honor the person’s chosen and sometimes even legal name in the reports of their deaths. So often we humans are caught up in the details and frequencies of these crimes that we get complacent and just add another name to the list. This is where a small group of trans people and a few allies step in to perform additional searches. We spend hours scouring social media, obituaries, and news outlets searching for details about who they were, what gave them joy, how their family or friends remember them.

These are the statements we will be reading for the sixty people we remember today.


Closing remarks given by Rose Surma, written by Dana Rasmussen

We really don’t want to focus on numbers, but it is important to note a few.
We remembered sixty people tonight. Nine of those were killed in 2020. It took eleven months to identify the first person on our list.

Fifty-one were killed since January 1st, making 2021 the deadliest year for trans people ever recorded.
Please keep in mind these numbers are always estimates because of the difficulties encountered in reporting.

As we depart tonight, I want to ask you to remember a few things.
This event is extremely difficult for many of us.
Allies: We need your help to survive. Please show love and support to the trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people in your lives.

To the gender diverse, you are loved and cherished.
Please reach out to those around you if you feel you need help or just want to talk.
TransFamily is here for you. We provide peer support group meetings and educational information.
If you for any reason feel unsafe in reaching out, please know there are organizations you can reach out to such as TransLifeline 877-565-8860 or The Trevor Project 866-488-7386. They will keep your information confidential.

Previous Vigils:

Our Virtual Vigil for 2020