Transgender Day Of Remembrance

I have nothing to say today. But I do have a point to make. I, and women who look me, are not the kinds of people you should be looking to today for understanding the significance of this day of mourning… its politics, its tragedy, its implications, and its exploitation. The voices heard should be the voices of those living with the specific forms of violence that have defined Transgender Day of Remembrance. The people we mourn every November 20th, far more often than not, were not victims of a generalized, abstract, evenly distributed transphobia, but victims of the intersection of how human beings are subjugated through gender and through race. If we continue to look to white trans women, or even more disturbingly, white trans men, to be the voices and representatives of these victims, we have absolutely no right to claim that today is about respect for the dead.

Please read the following, as a starting point:

The Speech I May Yet Give

Nihil de Nobis, Sine Nobis: Trans Women of Color and Remembering Your Dead

On Trans Day Of Remembrance, A Proposal

Doing Justice? Intersectionality In Queer Politics

Houston: Remembering Our Own, TDoR Event


Toldot: Voices and Transgender Day of Remembrance

I’ll try to add more links throughout the day, as I find them.



  1. says

    Thanks for sharing these links. There’s still a lot I have to learn about the experience of trans people and how it intersects with other identities. It’s hard to express sympathy without sounding patronising. The more those of us who aren’t trans learn about this horrific violence the more we realise how urgent it is to fight against it.

  2. Sharon B. says

    This post is objectively racist. I really don’t know what is going on with you Natalie. You are not the same person who began this blog and the change is not for the better.

    • says

      How exactly is it “objectively” racist to step aside and encourage people to listen to the voices of TWoC, in regards to their concerns that a given event has become exploitative / racist? I’m not even expressing an opinion here. I’m explicitly making the point that my white opinions aren’t relevant to this issue.

      Unless you mean I’m being “racist to white people” by saying we should stop being so exploitative of victims of racialized violence. But if THAT’S the claim you’re trying to make, well… fuck off, I guess? Because I’m not too worried about “anti-white racism”.

      • Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

        Isn’t it obvious? Your post is racist just like affirmative action is racist!


        Anyway, I was watching Colbert today and I got a kick in the face when he dropped a blatantly transphobic bomb in the middle of an otherwise relatively light-hearted rant about women and marriage. It was ugly and I wanted to drop you a line thanking you for raising my awareness to this sort of thing with your blog. Before I read your blog, I don’t think I would have even noticed it.

        I hope you start blogging regularly again soon because I really miss your unique voice.

  3. Tyler Daniel says

    Thank you for the links. I know that we should all seek out these issues of intersectionality, and pay close attention to the ways in which different privileges interact/overlap, but your writing often brings those issues into sharper focus. I hope everything is going all right in your life, and I hope you are able to return to the blogosphere at some point soon (in that order, of course).

  4. Zoe says

    While I understand the issue here – intersectionality must be addressed when we’re memorializing (and inevitably politicizing) the victims, and the people best equipped to do so are those who belong to the intersectional identities most often victimized – it simply isn’t always an option.

    The visible GSM community at the university where I did my undergrad work is overwhelmingly white. Okay. This is a problem in and of itself, but it’s something we are taking action to change – we have spaces by and for queer POC, ongoing outreach to queer first year students of color, and a number of annual events that address intersectional social justice. But even though I interact with and work with a number of queer people of color, they are cisgender gay men and lesbians. So it would not be any less problematic for them to speak at a TDOR event.

    If there are trans women of color around on campus, they are more than welcome to join us in our local trans* student group. And if they were willing to speak, their voices would be heard at TDOR.

    Instead, I, a white trans woman, was assigned to write bios for the dead, to the best of my ability, which I did, devoting many painstaking hours of digging through triggering material on the internet. At the event, a cis ally and a trans man read them off, butchering the names because no, they weren’t familiar with the phonetics of southwestern India. A white trans man and cisgender allies from the religious community said a few words in summation of the sense of pain and loss we all felt, and words of hope for the future.

    This was not ideal perhaps. But what was the alternative? Silence? Cancel the event unless a trans woman of color at our campus answers an open call in our newsletter? Refuse to listen to any but a trans woman of color sex worker from Latin America? Despite our undeniable privilege, we did our best to honor these people, AND to acknowledge the demographic most affected by all this overlapping hatred. Sometimes addressing the issue is all you can do. And I think there is still validity to be found in our voices when we have this awareness. Sometimes we die too. We have some basis at least to understand.

    • says

      My own choice has been silence, yes. I think that until these issues of privilege and exploitation are resolved, it is our job to move aside, and allow room the women most at risk to define and shape TDoR for themselves, and allow time for these wounds to heal. Honor the dead, sure. Mourn. But don’t speak for them. Don’t organize any events unless you have meaningful TWoC participation/guidance. And don’t use TDoR to sell your own agendas and politics.

      I honestly believe that at this point, with the level of exploitation and greed and selfishness that has come to define TDoR, it is better for those of us who are not the primary targets of this violence to just shut up, and direct our energies exclusively to supporting whatever TWoC wish to do, or not do. If they ASK us to speak, or to organize, or to show up to something, or to signal boost an essay, sure. But no, I don’t feel we NEED to continue these events. The people we’re supposedly doing them “on behalf of” have made it pretty explicitly clear that we’ve been doing more harm than good. So “what’s the alternative? Silence? Wouldn’t it be just as bad to stop?” or similar questions are pretty easy to answer: yes, the answer is our respectful silence. And it’s okay to stop.

      Anyway… I’m sort of undermining my own point by writing this reply, so I should probably shush. But basically… sometimes, the best thing those of us in a position of privilege can do is just shut the fuck up, step aside, and support the voices and efforts of the less privileged.

      • Zoe says

        Thank you for the response. Also, since this was my first post here, I wanted to say that I’ve been a reader for some time now and I greatly admire you, Natalie, for your passionate and articulate writing. I’ve linked people to your posts more than a few times in the past because you so often seem to capture perfectly what I want to say.


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