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Transgender

Transgender Awareness Week: Why It Matters and How to Observe It

Transgender Awareness Week
Images: Shutterstock

The week highlights not only the challenges faced by trans people but also their resilience and joy.

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Today marks the beginning of Transgender Awareness Week, observed each year to highlight the challenges faced by transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people as well as to honor their achievements.

When and Why Did Transgender Awareness Week Start?

Transgender Awareness Week, coming in November, which is Transgender Awareness Month, grew out of Transgender Day of Remembrance. The Day of Remembrance, taking place November 20, was founded in 1999 by activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed in 1998, and all those lost to anti-trans violence. Many organizations and individuals hold vigils November 20.

While We Remember Those Lost, We Also Celebrate Those Who Thrive

The week also includes recognition of trans people’s resilience, especially in the face of political attacks around the nation. In the past few years, more than 20 states have passed laws banning gender-affirming care for trans youth and restricting trans students’ participation in school sports. Some states have limited restroom access too, and there are many efforts to keep trans-inclusive books out of schools and public libraries.

In the face of all this, though, trans joy endures. Google is recognizing this by focusing on ballroom culture, having digitized an archive of images from ballroom events over the years. For Transgender Awareness Week, it has partnered with photographer Texas Isaiah “to capture the themes that honor Trans youth and their joy — and especially their joy of being part of Ballroom,” Sean Ebony Coleman, founder and executive director of Destination Tomorrow, wrote in a Google blog post. The project includes “beautiful portraits and images shot on Pixel … centering the power of joy at a time when too much joy is being taken away from trans youth,” Coleman noted.

What Events Will Be Organized This Year?

National and local groups are planning events for the week and the Day of Remembrance. The Human Rights Campaign will hold three Instagram Live events. Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, will host “Trans Talk: Trans Awareness Week,” featuring several trans activists, Tuesday at 6 p.m. Eastern. Ellen Kahn, HRC’s senior director of programs and partnerships, will host “Parents Speak: A Discussion With Two Fierce Mama Bears Raising Transgender Children” Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern. On November 20, Cooper will host “Trans Talk: Trans Day of Remembrance” with activists at 7 p.m. Eastern. HRC is also posting a series of stories from trans changemakers.

Fenway Health in Boston will host a launch party Thursday for Gender-Affirming Psychiatric Care, the first psychiatry textbook to provide an affirming, intersectional, and evidence-informed approach to this care for trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive people. The event will be held at 6 p.m. in Fenway Health’s 10th floor auditorium at 1340 Boylston St.

Out & Equal has posted “Elevating Voices: Transgender Awareness Month,” a series of stories highlighting the experiences of trans and gender-nonconforming people. The city of West Hollywood has planned several events for Trans Awareness Week, as have numerous cities, colleges, and organizations around the nation. To find one near you, contact your nearest trans group or LGBTQ+ community center.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.