From November 14-20, individuals and organizations around the country will participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and address the issues these communities face.

"When I started transitioning 14 years ago, I had this fantasy that I would start taking hormones and in a few years I would blend in and no one would know I was transgender," said activist Laverne Cox. "I knew a lot of transfolk like that, who presented this as the goal of transition. When I realized I was not blending in effortlessly.... I had to begin to own this transgender thing. When I encounter people they can usually tell I'm transgender, and if I don't own it I'm going to go around being shameful about it all the time. It's a reality of my life, it's a reality of my existence, and it's something I've come to believe is beautiful about me."

Cox was one of the many transpeople profiled in the I AM: Trans People Speak, a campaign created by the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and sponsored by GLAAD to raise awareness about the diversity of transgender communities. It aims to lift the voices of transgender individuals, as well as their families, friends and allies.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and began an important memorial that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

"The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost," said Transgender Day of Remembrance Founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith. "With so many seeking to erase transgender people -- sometimes in the most brutal ways possible -- it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice."

The final day of Transgender Awareness Week is the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

Participate in the Transgender Day of Remembrance by attending or organizing a vigil on November 20 to honor all those whose lives were lost to anti-transgender violence that year. Vigils are typically hosted by local transgender advocates or LGBT organizations, and held at community centers, parks, places of worship and other venues. The vigil often involves reading a list of the names of those who died that year.

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From our media partner EDGE