Content Warning: This article on Trans Day of Remembrance contains mentions of violence against the trans community. It also discusses the lives of trans people we have lost.

Trans Day of Remembrance is coming up and we would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the stories of trans pioneers who are no longer with us. We also would like to highlight the current, on-going violence trans people continue to endure.

Trans Day of Remembrance and Its Origins

Trans Day of Remembrance is a day to memorialise the trans people who have been murdered at the hands of transphobia. It also serves as a reminder of the continuous violence the trans community faces in this world. It was started in 1999 by trans advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith, honouring a trans woman who had been killed in 1998. Within the community, trans women of colour, specifically Black trans women, are the most affected by anti-trans violence. This vulnerable group has experienced the most hate crimes at a disproportionate rate.

2021 was deemed to be the most dangerous year for trans women yet. Last year, on Transgender Day of Remembrance, US President Joe Biden remembered the lost lives of trans people who were ‘killed in horrifying acts of violence’. All of them deserved ‘freedom, justice, and joy’. In his statement, Biden acknowledged the continuous violence trans people are subjected to and highlighted how disproportionately ‘Black and brown transgender women and girls’ are affected by anti-trans and anti-Black violence.

In 2022, at least 32 trans and gender non-conforming people were killed. These are the people that we know of. Too often trans people’s stories remain in the dark, unreported or even misreported. Police statements and medical reports have often misgendered the victims. Out of these 32 victims, the vast majority were Black trans people.

Trans Lives Lost in 2022

For Trans Day of Remembrance, to commemorate the people who have died in 2022, here are some of the names and stories of trans people who unfortunately lost their lives due to anti-trans violence:

  • Tiffany Banks: She was a ‘sociable and beautiful butterfly’. She loved to sing and dance.
  • Semaj Billingslea: He graduated from Florida Youth Academy. He was a fan of rapper Megan Thee Stallion.
  • Acey Morrison: She was a Two-Spirit person, always ‘there for her family and friends’.
  • Amanda Îaûara Ka’aeté: She was an Indigenous woman from Brazil. She researched the Old Tupi language.
  • Ray Muscat: He worked at a grocery store and was a ‘kind soul who had a glowing smile’.

Celebrating Trans Icons

This Trans Day of Remembrance, we would also like to spotlight the lives of iconic trans pioneers who came before us. They paved the way for the younger generations of trans people to live their lives as authentically as possible:

  • Marsha P. Johnson: She was an LGBTQ+ activist and self-identified drag queen. She was one of the prominent figures around the time of the Stonewall riots and the first gay liberation pride march.
  • April Ashley: She was one of the first people in the UK to undergo gender-affirming surgery. She later became a model and was photographed for Vogue magazine.
  • Christine Jorgensen: While younger trans people view Laverne Cox as a pioneer in the film industry for trans representation – rightfully so – she was not the first trans actress to pave the way. Jorgensen was the first person in the US to go through gender-affirming surgeries. She became one of the first trans celebrities, a successful actress and singer.
  • Willmer ‘Little Ax’: He was a celebrated gospel quartet singer from the 20th century. He hid his trans identity throughout his entire life, already dealing with racism and segregation during his time as a singer.

Last Message for Trans Day of Remembrance

This Trans Day of Remembrance let’s remember all the trans people we know and love who have gone too soon. Let’s continue to celebrate their stories so that they may never be forgotten.