Trans Day of Resilience Celebrates Life Beyond Survival

By Sameer Rao Nov 20, 2018

Transgender people of color and allies mourn community members lost to transphobic violence on the 19th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance today (November 20). Forward Together builds on today’s premise with the sixth iteration of Trans Day of Resilience.


rntThe yearly campaign partners trans and gender-nonconforming (GNC) artists of color with social justice organizations to illustrate their visions of liberation and power for their communities. According to a description on its website, Trans Day of Resilience aims not to replace what it calls "a sacred day to remember those killed by anti-trans violence," but to additionally celebrate those community members of color who survive in the face of ongoing attacks against them.

“At a time when depictions of trans folks often center around suffering and death, we want to celebrate the lives of trans, gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people in the most unifying way—through art," Forward Together’s digital strategist Prerna Sampat writes in an emailed statement. "Too often, we find ourselves in political and social movements deprived of imagination and artistic spaces lacking political engagement. Through [Trans Day of Resilience], we hope that communities understand how critical it is to honor and support trans people in life, and not just in death.”

To that end, here are the four works developed for this year’s initiative, plus excerpts from the artists’ statements:


"We are our biggest supporters. Our connections to each other can begin before the march and be maintained far after. As queer and transgender people, it is truly our duty to find it in our hearts to aid in our overall resilience. There are so many ways to love one another in between visits to the frontlines." Asia-Vinae Jazzreal Palmer on "Trans AF, Queer AF & Here AF," created in collaboration with BreakOUT!


"My initial prompt for this piece was [Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project’s] message of intercommunity protection. As [transgender and gender-nonconforming] people, there are very few systems that successfully defend us from acts violence, so we have to make our own. I was also very inspired by the trans/GNC folks who are returning to their ancestral practices and cultivating magic. These three sisters/non-conformers/goddexxes are standing as one joined by hair and hands as they face a storm. They are armed and ready to keep each other safe by any means, be it violence or peace. This community has fiercely shown how dedicated we are to each other’s survival. We consistently are each other’s source of light and I wanted to honor that." Amir Khadar on "We Keep Each Other Safe," created in collaboration with TGI Justice Project.]


"People of diverse genders and trans folks have always led movements for freedom. They are the first to struggle against the weeds of oppression and colonization, and the first to protect and free their communities. We dismantle oppressive systems from the ground up, for the good of all people. We stand together, unashamed in all our pride and glory." Art Twink on "Butterflies and Dandelions," created in collaboration with Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement


"My piece centers Black trans sex workers of different sizes and deep complexions. I created this piece to celebrate, highlight, honor, humanize and defend Black sex workers of trans experience. My specific focus as an artist, and as a regular degular fat bitch just tryna get free, is to uplift and create visibility for Black fat folks—especially Black fat hoes, bad bitches and survivors. This piece was done digitally with inspirations from Atlanta (‘The Black Queer Mecca’) and the Black babes of trans experience who are constantly finding ways to survive a system created to destroy them." —Ashleigh Shackelford on "Protect Black Trans Sex Workers," created in collaboration with Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative

Download all the works at