November most prominently establishes the holiday season—the time of year when we start focusing more on our close friends and family, thinking up thoughtful gifts to give and openly expressing our love to one another. And if you’re an alley to the transgender community, it’s also a good time to think up ways to better support a trans friend—not only during the holiday season, but also year ’round.
Many don’t know, though, that within the second week of November, we celebrate Transgender Awareness Week, which culminates with Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on Nov. 20. From Nov. 13-19, transgender folk, gender nonconforming people and gender queer community allies use this time to educate others by hosting events, openly sharing stories and publicly discussing the adversities members of this community face on a daily basis. And on Nov. 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance—an annual observance that began after the 1998 murder of Rita Hester, a trans woman in the Boston area—we honor those who have lost their lives due to acts of anti-transgender violence.
Watch Corey Rae’s Message for Transgender Day of Remembrance 2019
Now, in TDOR’s 20th year, this awareness week is an important part of transgender history, especially as the general public is still greatly unaware and unaccepting of the trans community. To put it simply, we are a misunderstood minority. Even in more progressive cities, people may “know” what transgender is on a very superficial level—but do they really understand us? Do they outwardly show us their support?
Even in recent years, transgender people have become more visible in the media, but we are still fighting against discrimination in airports, bars, bathrooms, restaurants, schools, workplaces, with law enforcement, and within the healthcare system. So many transgender teens are kicked out of their homes and left to fend for themselves, simply for wanting to live their truth. I personally know how important it is to have support from friends and family because I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. As inhabitants of this planet, it is crucial that we all give our love to those who need it most.
As November brings about “cuffing season” and seasonal depression (even in LA), we tend to long for romantic relationships and play into the cold weather months with comfy sweaters, cuddle buddies, and pumpkin-flavored everything (which I proudly do not partake in, thank you very much). The closer we get to December, we think about what to gift others, yet we seldom think about the intangible representations of love we can give—and the best is unconditional love and support. Of course, we all desire love, whether it’s familial, romantic or platonic. And given all the daily adversities that trans folk go through, it’s critical for the wellbeing of transgender individuals to feel extra loved.
I’ve noticed that what our world lacks most when it comes to the transgender community is not only awareness and acceptance but also a true understanding of the trans community’s day-to-day experiences. I’m hoping that this year, Trans Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance bring light to those who have yet to grasp the beauty and courage that comes with being transgender.
We are brave individuals whose transition in life is not only emotional or mental but also physical, as well. Support systems are significant for our survival, especially during this time of year filled with family holidays, seasonal depression and couples forming everywhere we look. Society has made this time of year about bonding. And now, more than ever, we need to stand by one another. Regardless of genetic makeup, what we may have been taught by our elders or differing beliefs, transgender people deserve to be loved and supported—and that cannot be fully expressed through something that’s just tangible. It needs to be felt.
In order to make our world a better and safe place to live, humankind has to become educated about transgender culture. It has to accept us, respect us and understand us.
How Do You Support the Transgender Community?
1. Participate During Transgender Awareness Week
See what events and/or organizations are happening in your area. Help to raise the visibility of trans folk and address the issues of prejudice, discrimination and violence towards the transgender community.
2. Send Kind Messages
You can do this by simply telling them how much you appreciate and support them, acknowledging their struggle, or even inviting them over for a meal.
3. Learn the Proper Terminology
Not only will you be able to better communicate, you’ll also have a better understanding of the trans community.
4. Follow Transgender Public Figures on Social Media
And keep up to date on the happenings taking place in the trans community.
5. Consume Media Made by Trans Folk
Watch TV series and films created by trans director, starring trans actors, and about trans stories.
6. Volunteer Your Time at a LGBTQ+ Center
This one is a given and an actionable item that can directly affect the trans community.
7. Educate Yourself
It’s the best way to help yourself and the world. While some transgender public figures, such as myself, have made a career out of helping other to better understand the transgender community, it is not every trans person’s job to do so. Therefore, leaning on your own will strengthen the relationships you have the trans folk in your life.
8. Highlight and Share Stories of Positive Trans Experiences
And not the negative ones, which only continue to stigmatize the trans community. Make sure to honor the wins.