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Transgender Awareness Month 2023 & The Transgender Day of Remembrance

Illustration of a person holding the trans pride flag

November is Transgender Awareness Month, an opportunity to celebrate, honor, and stand up for our transgender, non-binary, and/or gender-expansive (TNG) friends, family, and neighbors as we work to raise awareness, foster understanding, and celebrate the trans community’s rich tapestry of experiences.

By actively participating in the movement, we can contribute to a world that values and respects every individual, regardless of their gender identity. Fenway Health is holding a book launch event on November 16 for Gender-Affirming Psychiatric Care, the first textbook in the field of psychiatry to provide an affirming, intersectional, and evidence-informed approach to caring for TNG people. Out & Equal has posted the Elevating Voices: Transgender Awareness Month series highlighting trans stories and you can read about Fenway’s own Cheryl Katon in a recently published Boston Globe profile. The Boston Public Library has curated a collection of 17 TNG memoirs to add to your reading list. GLSEN has created a Trans Action Kit that shares personal experiences and can help students and educators learn about gender diversity, pronoun visibility, trans students’ rights, inclusive curriculum, and GSA practices.

Unfortunately, this is a time in our country that is filled with fear and uncertainty for many TNG Americans. According to the Trans Legislation Tracker, 586 anti-trans bills have been introduced across 49 states, with 85 having passed so far. 36 anti-trans bills have been introduced at the federal level. Trans youth are the target of much of this legislation, which includes bills preventing trans girls and women from playing on female sports teams, barring trans youth from using bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity, banning on classrooms discussions about LGBTQIA+ issues, and restrictions on gender-affirming medical care for both youth and adults. Not all of the news is bad, though. 125 of these bills have failed to pass.

As the political rhetoric continues to heat up ahead of next year’s presidential election, our transgender and gender diverse people need support and solidarity now more than ever. There are several ways that non-TNG folks can be good allies to the trans community:

  • Educate Yourself: Take the time to educate yourself about transgender issues, terminology, and the history of the transgender rights movement. Understanding the experiences of TNG individuals is crucial in building empathy and fostering a more inclusive environment.
  • Amplify Trans Voices: Use your platform to amplify the voices of transgender individuals. Share their stories, art, and achievements. By providing visibility, you contribute to a culture that acknowledges and celebrates the diverse experiences within the TNG community.
  • Support Transgender Organizations: Contribute to organizations dedicated to transgender rights and well-being. Whether through donations, volunteering, or participating in awareness campaigns, your support can make a meaningful impact.

Transgender Awareness Month culminates each year with the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). Each year on November 20, people everywhere pause to remember and mourn the lives lost to hate and transphobic violence, with the days preceding it (November 13 – 19) being commemorated by many as Transgender Awareness Week.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance began here in Massachusetts in 1998 in response to the tragic unsolved murder of Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman and beloved community member, in Allston. The day is now observed in over 200 cities in 21 countries around the world, including across Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, anti-transgender violence has only risen since the first Transgender Day of Remembrance. At least 25 transgender and gender diverse people across the country have been murdered this year. The true number is likely much larger, as too often these stories go unreported or misreported. And each year, Black and Latinx transgender women are disproportionately affected by transphobic violence.

Please consider attending a community gathering online or in person. You can find events on the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s website, and Fenway Health is one of the sponsors of Cape Cod Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Transgender Awareness Month is a time for reflection, education, and celebration and Transgender Day of Remembrance offers us an opportunity to remember those we have lost. We hope everyone finds meaningful ways to commemorate these important occasions.

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