Transgender Remembrance Day: An Open Letter

November 17, 2011

By Joanna Ware

Image of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation Blog header

Image of Joanna Ware smiling at the camera.

Joanna Ware is the Lead Organizer and Training Coordinator for Keshet, a national grassroots organization that works for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Jews in Jewish life.

As Jews, we know all too well the cost of being marked as other. We know the collective pain of injustice and loss, and we know the necessity of marking and remembering that pain and mourning, in order to move forward into the more just, whole world we are all partners in creating.

Every November 20th, transgender people and allies gather around the world to memorialize and remember the victims of transphobic violence killed in the last year. Since January of 2009, over 170 trans and gender non-conforming people were murdered for being themselves.

All of us, trans and ally alike, deserve to thrive; to bring our fullest, most vibrant versions of ourselves into the world. Transphobia, the fear or hatred of trans and gender variant people, makes that impossible for many trans people— sometimes by cutting words, cold shoulders, exclusion, discrimination and sometimes by violence.

This November, we take time to remember the victims of transphobic violence we have lost. We take time to appreciate the support of community, friends, and families of origin and of choice. We take time to remember what we are fighting against, and who we are fighting for. We take time to grieve, and time to affirm one another and ourselves in life.

Keshet has created a guide in which you will find readings and resources for marking Trans Day of Remembrance in your community and for taking action to make the world a safer, more just place for trans and gender-variant people. Please share these resources widely, and let us know if and how your community is observing Trans Day of Remembrance.

In mourning and hope,

Joanna Ware



  • A Jewish Guide to Marking Transgender Day of Remembrance


  • International Transgender Day of Remembrance
  • LGBT Jewish Heroes Poster Series
  • Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives
  • 10 Things You Can Do Today to Strengthen Our Community