The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), also known as the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, is observed annually on November 20 as a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to draw attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community.
Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman, to memorialize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts.Since its inception, TDoR has been held annually on November 20, and it has slowly evolved from the web-based project started by Smith into an international day of action. In 2010, TDoR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries.
Below are a couple of stories from our Transgender group participants:
Angus ‘Andrea’ Grieve-Smith
I’ve never had a gender identity. I grew up as a boy, but sometimes I felt uncomfortable with that and wanted to be seen as a girl, so I started wearing women’s clothes.
When I was in my twenties I decided I wanted to live as a man, so most of the time I dress like typical men. But I recognized that sometimes I still want to be seen as a woman, and to dress, talk and act more like typical women. I came out at about the same time, and have been out ever since.
I’ve looked at all the labels and definitions, and the one that fits me the closest is transvestite, which is a subset of transgender. The word “cross-dresser” feels too shameful and closeted.
Dealing with transgender feelings is never simple, and there isn’t a lot of information about how to do that without a stereotypical gender transition. Most of my family, friends, colleagues and neighbors are accepting, but even in New York it can be hard to be trans. Even trans people can be mean to other trans people.
Queens Pride House’s transgender support group has been a great help for me in coping with transgender feelings, and in dealing with the hardships of being trans. It has welcomed me when other groups have told me they have no place for me. Its non-directive principle has allowed me to meet a large number of people dealing with trans feelings in very different ways, and relieved me from having to sit through innumerable discussions of hormones, surgery and name changes. Not everyone who comes to the group becomes friends, but I have made some good friends.
I’m 55, trans and married for 30 years. Six years ago I came out to wife about my cross-dressing. I was already going out ‘dressed,’ but my wife was unaware of it. She helped me dress at home with make-up, nails, hair, etc., but forbade me to go out in public. She helped not because she likes to, she did it out of her love for me. Before I told my wife, I would intermittently cross-dress, alone at home, but with whatever I could manage to fit into, whether my wife’s attire, or small things I’d pick up. I didn’t think of my femme persona that often, as I was busy raising a family, etc.
The urges got very strong when I was diagnosed with diabetes. I had to lose a significant amount of weight to control the disease. The funny thing is that when I lost the weight, I liked the way my body looked in feminine attire, so I started dressing more, taking days off from work, to get clothes on the cheap. This went on for about four years until wife found out.
I started taking feminizing herbs two years ago, and my body has changed. I now have visible breasts, but dress as a guy. I still continue to take the herbs, but will not go further with transition. I want to stay married but in no way can I give this up. The support of the groups I’ve attended with other trans people has been extremely helpful.
I finally came to accept this is me, I don’t want to live a double life either or lie especially to myself or my wife or anyone. I will not compromise on this. I can’t dress without feeling guilt so I’m not dressing right now, but I also can’t change who I am. I can’t go back to the way I was. I’m just not HIM anymore. I still am a him in a lot if ways but not what I was, and I’m glad for that. I’m a bit depressed now about not being able to dress when I want, but I have a wife that loves me; that’s the trade off. I think she may come around about the dressing. I have already told her I still have that desire to dress and will need to at some point, and that it wasn’t going away; but I’m not going away either.
I have been involved with Queens Pride House since I worked with several other members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community of Queens to co-found the organization in 1997. Since 2012, I have served as coordinator of the transgender support group, which is based on an appreciation of the full diversity of gender identity in our community. As I like to say, our group is non-directional and non-directive: we don’t tell people what to do or how to do it, but rather provide a safe and supportive environment for people to figure out what it is they would like to do and how to go about it.
Many people like to refer to the ‘spectrum’ of gender and our group includes everyone from cross-dressers and transvestites to transsexuals to gender-queers and others who self-identify with other labels. We do talk about access to hormones and surgery as well as other medical interventions, but they aren’t the primary focus of our discussions; there is no governing teleology or assumption of a transition narrative or even of transition as a goal of every individual member.
As for me, I identify as a transgendered woman. While I and the other members of the transgender support group fully support those who choose to pursue hormones, surgery and other medical interventions, my own gender identity is not based on any such interventions but rather solely on my own internal sense of my identity as a woman, something I have been aware of since my earliest memories as a child, even if it was not until well into adulthood that I was able to actualize my gender identity.
I transitioned in 1997 at the time of the founding of Queens Pride House and I’ve been focused on helping others actualize their own gender identity and empower the gender expression of everyone in the transgender support group and in the larger community beyond.