For Transgender, a Day to Remember

Harvard students celebrated yesterday the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance for the first time since the University took steps to protect its affiliates from discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Thanks to an amendment to University policy passed in April, gender identity bias has joined racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination as expressly prohibited at Harvard.

With that move, Harvard recognized that bias against transgender individuals might not be addressed by policies protecting gay men and lesbian women.

And the Boston area is certainly familiar with anti-transgender sentiment. The Day of Remembrance was established in 1999 to honor the death of Rita Hester, a transgender Allston resident who was stabbed to death the previous year.

The goal of the day, which takes place Nov. 20 each year, is to raise public awareness of hate crimes and to honor transgender people who have been murdered.

The transgender community and its supporters say that this day is necessary to supplement the media’s poor coverage of transgender hate crimes.

More than one person is killed each month due to transgender-based bias, according to the Web site for the organization Gender Education and Advocacy.

The day was celebrated locally Sunday with “town hall meetings,” including one on Bolyston Street that Harvard students attended.

The Harvard Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance plans to celebrate the day of remembrance after Thanksgiving break, according to the group’s public relations chair, Katie E. Smith ’10.