Friday, Nov. 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a solemn annual observance honoring the memories of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. 

For those of us here in New England, this occasion has a grim local connection. It was established in 1999 to remember Rita Hester. She was a black trans woman murdered in Allston neighborhood of Boston in 1998, just short of her 35th birthday. Her murder has never been solved.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, rates of violence against transgender people, particularly black and brown transgender people, have reached epidemic proportions. According to that organization, since 2013, HRC and other advocacy groups have tracked more than 180 cases of anti-transgender fatal violence. They note that Black and Brown trans women of color are disproportionately impacted, comprising approximately 4 in 5 of all anti-transgender homicides. Then-candidate and now President-elect Joe Biden recently echoed HRC’s dire warnings, calling anti-trans violence “an epidemic that needs national leadership.” In fact, this year is the deadliest on record for transgender victims of violence.

You can find a number of ongoing workshops as well as local, regional and virtual events marking Transgender Day of Remembrance and November’s Trans Awareness month at the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s website

Interested in learning more? Watch the TED Talk Transploitation: The Reality of Being a Black Trans Woman. This Friday, check out the Office of Intercultural Affairs social media streams, where they’ll be honoring and remembering those lost due to violence and hate toward transgender individuals.