Transgender Awareness Week, what you need to know

Sir Lady Java, Transgender Awareness Week

Almost 50 years before “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Pose,” Sir Lady Java was a pioneering transgender activist fighting against a Los Angeles law that restricted drag performance. Photo: Sir Lady Java

Monday marked the beginning of Transgender Awareness Week, observed each year to highlight the challenges faced by transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people as well as to honor their achievements.

Transgender Awareness Week origins

Transgender Awareness Week, coming in November, which is Transgender Awareness Month, grew out of Transgender Day of Remembrance. The Day of Remembrance, taking place November 20, was founded in 1999 by activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed in 1998, and all those lost to anti-trans violence. Many organizations and individuals will host vigils on November 20.

Remembering those lost, celebrating those who thrive

The week also includes recognition of trans people’s resilience, especially in the face of political attacks around the nation. In the past few years, more than 20 states have passed laws banning gender-affirming care for trans youth and restricting trans students’ participation in school sports. Some states have limited restroom access too, and there are many efforts to keep trans-inclusive books out of schools and public libraries.

In the face of all this, though, trans joy endures. Google is recognizing this by focusing on ballroom culture, having digitized an archive of images from ballroom events over the years. For Transgender Awareness Week, it has partnered with photographer Texas Isaiah “to capture the themes that honor trans youth and their joy — and especially their joy of being part of Ballroom,” Sean Ebony Coleman, founder and executive director of Destination Tomorrow, wrote in a Google blog post. The project includes “beautiful portraits and images shot on Pixel … centering the power of joy at a time when too much joy is being taken away from trans youth,” Coleman noted.

Sir Lady Java is a transgender pioneer who fought discrimination


National and local groups are planning events for the week and the Day of Remembrance. The Human Rights Campaign will hold two Instagram Live events.

Ellen Kahn, HRC’s senior director of programs and partnerships, will host “Parents Speak: A Discussion With Two Fierce Mama Bears Raising Transgender Children” Friday at 7 p.m. eastern.

On Nov. 20, Cooper will host “Trans Talk: Trans Day of Remembrance” with activists at 7 p.m. eastern.

HRC is also posting a series of stories from trans changemakers.

Fenway Health in Boston will host a launch party Thursday for “Gender-Affirming Psychiatric Care,” the first psychiatry textbook to provide an affirming, intersectional, and evidence-informed approach to this care for trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive people. The event will be held at 6 p.m. in Fenway Health’s 10th floor auditorium at 1340 Boylston St.

Out & Equal has posted “Elevating Voices: Transgender Awareness Month,” a series of stories highlighting the experiences of trans and gender-nonconforming people.

West Hollywood has planned several events for Trans Awareness Week, as have numerous cities, colleges, and organizations around the nation. To find one near you, contact your nearest trans group or LGBTQ+ community center.

This article originally appeared on, and is shared here as part of an LGBTQ+ community exchange between Q Voice News and Equal Pride.

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Trudy Ring

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