TDOR Forum Looks to Shed Light, Build Bridges


Posted Sun, Nov 25, 2012

DENVER, Auraria Campus-GLBT Student Services hosted a forum Wednesday for International Transgender Day of Remembrance. The event, held in the Multicultural Lunge of the Tivoli Student Union on Auraria Campus, featured speakers, as well as an open forum on transgender issues.

In Memoriam: The names of transgender victims of violence were written along the Tivoli Commons walkway.

TDOR is held annually to memorialize victims murdered as a result of transphobia.  The day was founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender web designer and activist, to memorialize Rita Hester. Hester was a transgender woman and resident of Boston who was found stabbed to death in her home on Nov. 28, 1998. Her murder remains unsolved.The widely recognized Day of Remembrance is actually Nov. 20, but logistics forced an accommodation of sorts.

“This was the date we kind of had to choose,” said Steve Wilich, Director of the GLBT Student Services at Auraria.

As TDOR occurs the Tuesday before Thanksgiving this year, coordinators had to decide the best time to hold the forum. Few students have classes Friday and would consequently be less likely to attend. Fewer students will be on campus at all the week of Thanksgiving

Last year’s event drew 70 or 80 people, Wilich said.

The event was billed largely as educational with displays, presentations and discussions in memoriam of victims.

“Most people don’t know enough about this population,” Wilich said. “We do a lot of training to get rid of homophobia and transphobia. It’s at least every other week we do training sessions. ”

A slide show loop ran on a display screen with nearly four-dozen photos and/or names (when available) of transgender victims of murder between the late 1980s and present day. Many of those same names were written on a concrete circle on the walking path in the Tivoli Commons.

One of the first speakers was Sable Schultz, 41, an MSU Denver alumnus, former GLBT services at Auraria worker and transgender woman.

Reaching Out: MSU Denver alumnus speaks with two attendants of Wednesday’s TDOR event.

Schultz, an advocate for TDOR, believes the day could stand a refocusing.

“One of the problems with TDOR is we often forget to talk about the intersections of race & class,” Schultz said. “Poor women and transgender women are primarily the targets of transgender violence. It’s important we open up our dialogues to them rather than have dialogues about them”

A large number of the victims of transgender violence are minority women, but the underreported and under-researched nature of this statistic makes it hard to nail down.

“White transgender women may get called out, but we don’t get murdered in droves,” Schultz said.

“We need to reach out,” Schultz said. “We need to make alliances with communities of color. We remind ourselves that none of us are liberated until all of us are liberated.”




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About Stephen Young

Stephen Young is currently a student studying writing at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. He believes that writing is torture, but still does it for some reason.

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One Response to “TDOR Forum Looks to Shed Light, Build Bridges”

  1. Leah Says:

    Incredibly interesting to read about! Didn’t know this was an event- glad I know now. Very well written article!


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