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Transgender Day of Remembrance 2017

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“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Every 20th of November, we remember transgender individuals who lost their lives over the year as a result of violence, fear, and hatred all over the world. It is an opportunity for us to educate others about the transgender experience and raise awareness to the struggles and hardships we face as a community. This year the deaths have reached a new high in many nations, with more murders occurring throughout the globe than any one of the last five years. Many of these deaths go unmentioned by media and only a handful of their murders are thoroughly investigated by police. For those that are investigated, their killers rarely are caught or convicted. In 48 of the 5o states in the U.S. "trans-panic", the feeling of being so shocked at the discovery that someone is transgender that you were u…

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Tracey Africa Norman

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Tracey "Africa" Norman is an African-American transgender woman best known for her modeling career. She was born in 1951 and is originally from Newark, New Jersey. Norman described her feelings of being different for a cover story for New York Magazine saying that it went back as far as she could remember and that she just felt as though she was living in the wrong body. She had a difficult life at home, as she had a father who was battling cancer and was afraid to come out to her family. She kept her feelings a secret for quite some time, finally working up enough courage to come out after she graduated. She has described that her mother was the hardest person to tell, but was relieved when her mother reached out and gave her a big hug, admitting that she had always known.

Once she came out to her family she wanted to begin the transition process but was unsure of how to start. One day she reconnected with a former classmate who had been through the process and discovered …

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Sylvia Rivera

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Sylvia Rivera was a gay liberation and transgender activist. She was born in 1951 and raised in New York City, spending the majority of her life in or near the city. Early in her life, her father walked out on the family, later she became an orphan when her mother committed suicide. Afterwards, she was raised by her grandmother who did not approve of Sylvia's effeminate behavior, especially when she began wearing makeup. She started living on the streets at the age of 11, working as a prostitute and taken in by a group of drag queens who named her Sylvia. She has been described as the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement. She considered her gender very fluid, referring to herself in a variety of pronouns at different times in her life.


Rivera was present during the civil rights movement and later in anti-war protests during the Vietnam War. She also participated in the feminist movement of the mid-1960's. In 1969 she was among the rioters in the Stonewall Inn Riot whi…

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Laverne Cox

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Laverne Cox is an American transwoman best known for her role in Netflix series Orange is the New Black. She is an actress and LGBT advocate and activist. She was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1984. She was raised by her single mother and grandmother along with her twin brother. When she was 11 years old, she made a suicide attempt because she was often bullied for not "behaving someone who was assigned male at birth was meant to behave." and for noticing that she was developing feelings for her male classmates. She graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts where she studied creative writing and dance. She also attended Indiana University Bloomington and transferred to Marymount Manhattan College in New York City from there where she studied acting. She has appeared in a variety of television shows and films and is one of the most successful transgender actresses in the industry.  She has also received a large array of awards both related and unrelated to her activism for …

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Jazz Jennings

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Jazz Jennings is an American transgender girl. She is a YouTube personality, spokesmodel, and LGBTQ+ rights activist. She was born in South Florida in 2000 and was diagnosed in 2004 with gender identity disorder. This makes her one of the youngest people to be identified as transgender. She made it very clear at a young age that she was female, asking for feminine clothing instead of gender-neutral clothing. By the age of six, she was appearing on various news programs and talk shows with her parents discussing the difficulties of living as a young transgender person. Her parents founded the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, an organization that assists transgender youth, in 2007. She has also had a few books published that discuss her life and transgender rights in general.


A documentary about her life entitled I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition, aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network in 2011. It discusses the entire experience she and her family have had during her transition. That sa…

Trans Timelines (1500-1900): Anne Bonny & Mary Read

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When most people think of pirates, they usually think of buried treasure, swashbuckling, "argh matey blow the man down", sloops, a blunderbuss, talking parrots, jolly rogers, the black spot, Davy Jones, being marooned, sea shanties and probably Johnny Depp. They also tend to think of men traversing across the seven seas for months even years in a scurvy-ridden sausage party. Depending on what age of piracy is examined, the fact that the practice was dominated by mostly men is pretty accurate. This is particularly true for the time period that comes to most people's minds, the Golden Age of Piracy.

Yes the Golden Age of Piracy was dominated by men. What did you expect? That time period was pretty oppressive to women. But that doesn't mean there weren't any female pirates. Matter of fact there was about a handful of them. Most of them didn't last long or only have a few sentences of recorded history to reference. But there were two particular female pirates th…

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Janet Mock

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Janet Mock is an American transgender woman from Hawaii. She was born March 10, 1983 (hey, we share a birthday!). She is a bestselling writer, TV host, and transgender rights activist. She spent most of her youth in Hawaii, but also lived in Oakland, California and Dallas, Texas. She began her transition as a freshman in high school, funding it as a sex worker in her teens. She had gender confirmation surgery at the age of 18 in the middle of her first year of college.

Mock attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising in 2004, later she attended New York University earning a Master of Arts in Journalism in 2006. She was the first member of her family to attend college.She has also received a variety of awards including the Sylvia Rivera Activist Award in 2012, was included in the Trans 100 a list of influential Transgender activists in 2013... it's first year. She received the GLSEN Respect Award and the Feminist Press honored …