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Affirming and Uplifting Transgender People and Activists on Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2018

By Alexis McKenney

On November 28, 1998, in Boston, Massachusetts, Rita Hester was found stabbed 20 times in her apartment two days before her 35th birthday. Miraculously, she survived the assault, but she died of cardiac arrest after being taken to the hospital.

As a Black transwoman and artist who was deeply involved in her community, Rita’s murder sent shockwaves throughout her neighborhood – and the country. It was a reminder of the violence and hate suffered by so many LGBTQ people, especially transwomen of color like Rita who made up 82 percent of the transgender individuals murdered in this year alone.

Rita’s loved ones, including her mom, Kathleen, decided to hold a vigil in her honor which became the internationally recognized Trans Day of Remembrance which is observed annually on November 20. Since Rita’s death, hundreds of trans people around the world have been victims of transphobic violence that goes widely ignored or misreported.

Today, Advancement Project acknowledges the 22 trans lives that have been lost this year and those prior. We mourn their deaths and honor the legacy of trans activists such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera by continuing to fight for a world that’s not only free of transphobic violence, but also actively embraces and uplifts the identities of transgender people everywhere.


We uplift the life and legacy of Marsha P. Johnson
We uplift the life and legacy of Sylvia Rivera
We uplift the life and legacy of Tonya “Kita” Harvey
We uplift the life and legacy of Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier
We uplift the life and legacy of Vanessa Campos
We uplift the life and legacy of Brandon Teena
We uplift the life and legacy of Angie Zapata
We uplift the life and legacy of Rita Hester
We uplift the life and legacy of all transgender people whose lives were lost to transphobic violence and systemic oppression.

To learn more about the violence against the trans community and how to combat it, read the Human Rights Watch report A National Epidemic: Fatal Transgender Violence in America in 2018. Also check out GLAAD’s Resources for Transgender People in Crisis.