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Transgender Day of Remembrance 2020 Events in Houston

Violence against trans and gender-nonconforming individuals reached a record high this year.

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Editor’s note: Due to the recent increase in local COVID-19 cases, Harris County officials advise residents to take action by minimizing contact with others whenever possible, and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs. Those who do leave their homes should follow CDC safety guidelines by wearing masks, washing their hands often, and practicing social distancing. 

At least 350 transgender or gender-nonconforming people lost their lives to anti-trans violence worldwide within the past year, including 37 from the United States. They will be memorialized this Friday during Houston’s annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) events. 

TDOR is an international observance that occurs annually on November 20 to honor trans people who have been lost to hate crimes. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) reported that 2020 saw the highest number of deaths in the U.S. since the organization began tracking these murderers in 2013.    

A majority of the victims from the U.S. were Black and Latinx trans women. In Texas, two trans women were murdered. Helle Jae O’Regan, 20, was killed in San Antonio, and Merci Mack, 22, was killed in Dallas. 

At least 37 trans or gender non-conforming Americans were reported murdered within the past year, according to the Human Rights Campaign (collage by OutSmart Magazine).

“We are living an extremely vitriolic period where hate, prejudice, racism, and transphobia are fueled by many in power,” said HRC’s Tori Cooper. “This is contributing to a rise in animosity and an increase in fatal violence against trans and gender-nonconforming people. We need our allies to take action to support us today and every day.”

Folks can join HRC online from November 18 to November 20 for a virtual Transgender Awareness Week celebration, which includes a variety of special events, film screenings, and panel discussions. The week’s events will wrap up on Friday with a TDOR panel discussion at 10:00 am (CST). 

This year marks the 21st annual TDOR. The event was founded in 1999 by trans activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith to memorialize the 1998 murder of Rita Hester, a trans Boston woman who was misgendered, deadnamed, and otherwise disrespected by the local gay and mainstream press. Over time, TDOR evolved from Smith’s small, web-based project into an international day of action. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TDOR observances will largely be held virtually in 2020. Below is a list of Houston observances taking place both online and in-person this year. 

Low-Fi: Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 19 at 6:45 p.m.

Rice Cinema hosts a special online screening of The Last Days of Charles/Kathryn McGuire (1995), and a post-screening discussion with the film’s director, Brian Huberman.  

The film tells the story of the late Kathryn McGuire, who was the first openly trans person to run for Houston City Council. Her journey toward gender confirmation surgery is documented in this PBS feature. 

The screening will be preceded by a rarely seen short documenting an early ACT UP Houston protest that was held in response to the queerphobic evangelical film Todd’s Greatest Regret

Tune in here: https://vimeo.com/478183217 

Houston Transgender Day of Remembrance TV Special

November 20 at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 10 p.m., and 11:30 p.m.

Houston Media Source will air TDOR television specials throughout the day on a variety of viewing platforms. Folks can tune in on Comcast channel 17, ATT U-Verse channel 99, Suddenlink channel 99, and Phonoscope channel 96. The special will also be available on the HMS streaming platform online at hmstv.org/hms-live.

Dia de Recordación Trans

November 20 at 6 p.m.

Organización Latina de Trans en Texas (OLTT) will host a TDOR event featuring music, dance, dinner, and art at Casa Anandrea, located at 7121 Harrisburg Boulevard.     

For more information on OLTT and Casa Anandrea, visit tinyurl.com/y3a2xwnz. 

Virtual Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20 at 6 p.m.

A collective of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) organizations—including the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), the Mahogany Project, Inc., Black Trans Advocacy Coalition (BTAC), Black Trans Leadership of Austin (BTLA), and Save Our Sisters United, Inc. (SOSU)—is coming together to observe a virtual TDOR.

The 90-minute program features a tribute to the late trans activist and journalist Monica Roberts, an Indigenous blessing, organization highlights, and more. 

The organizations will also provide mental-health support to attendees through Zoom breakout sessions. Links to the sessions will be posted on Facebook on the day of the event. There will be limited capacity for these breakout sessions, but the collective is also offering other group and individual support opportunities. 

Spanish interpretation will be available through a Zoom interpretation call. 

For more information, check out the event’s Facebook page here: tinyurl.com/y5ruexrh

If you know of any other TDOR Houston events that should be added to this list, send an email to [email protected].

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Brandon Wolf

Brandon Wolf is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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