Transgender Awareness and Remembrance  

By Damali Robertson, Director of DEIB 

Transgender Awareness Week happens each year in November. It is a week of awareness and celebration (Nov. 13th-20th) that leads into Transgender Day of Remembrance.* As Director of DEIB at LifeLong, I am writing to lift up transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit people and their contributions within our community. I’m also sharing what I’ve learned from LifeLong’s Transgender, Nonbinary, and Two Spirit Working Group and centering the joys and resilience that comes with being transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit. 

After being at LifeLong for just over two months, I can already see the ways transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit staff are essential to the patient-centered care we deliver. LifeLong was founded on social justice principles, to serve traditionally marginalized and disenfranchised people, and because of that, we are always striving to align our practices with our values. In the context of the United States, transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit people experience disenfranchisement in multiple ways – that experience can show in organizations like ours.  To that end, The Transgender, Nonbinary, and Two-Spirit Working Group was formed many years ago to ensure that LifeLong lives up to its founding commitments. 

The Transgender, Nonbinary, and Two Spirit Working Group meets monthly and recently developed a charter to formalize and guide its work. In the coming year, I will collaborate with the working group to ensure LifeLong becomes more equitable in practice. As part of our plans to collaborate more closely, I met with the working group last week and shared that I’d be writing this piece.  

I told them that I’d planned to write about the anti-transgender legislation sweeping the country; about all the reasons we need to continue to raise awareness (i.e., because they are still being mis-gendered or dead-named). The working group appreciated my ideas and attempt at allyship, however, they also offered me a few things to think about: 

  1. The working group asked me why I hadn’t asked someone who identifies as transgender, nonbinary, or two-spirit to write this piece. I quickly remembered that allies can do a better job of insisting the people closest to the experience write and speak to their own experiences. I promised to rectify that next time around.  
  1. The working group shared that there is so much more to being transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit than fighting unjust legislation, etc. Instead, they reminded me that it would be equally important (perhaps even more important) to write about trans joy and trans resilience. 
  1. The working group also told me that LifeLong provides crucial services to the trans community and that trans patients love LifeLong because of the open and affirming spaces we continue to create. One working group member even said, “LifeLong contributes to Gender Euphoria by caring for trans patients.” 

The conversation reminded me that we can be better allies, that LifeLong is an open and affirming space for our trans patients (even though it can get better). And perhaps most importantly the conversation reminded me that, there’s joy in being completely yourself; there’s a celebratory quality in being “tough yet soft.” 

Throughout the year we will continue to celebrate and remember our transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit staff, patients, family, and friends.  

Throughout the year, we grieve the transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit people who have been killed in the past year. 

* “Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was founded in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated the one-year anniversary of Hester’s death and all the transgender people lost to violence that year.”  Trans Day of Remembrance continues to memorialize people who have been killed because of anti-transgender acts of violence. We grieve the transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit people who have been killed in the past year. 

More News

7 Foods That Can Help With Anxiety

There’s a scene in “The Office” television...
Learn More about 7 Foods That Can Help With Anxiety

National Muffin Day  

Is there anything more universally loved than...
Learn More about National Muffin Day  

LifeLong Represents in Washington D.C.

LifeLong Board member Sharon Kidd, CEO David...
Learn More about LifeLong Represents in Washington D.C.

Happy Heart Day! 

It may be Valentine’s Day but let...
Learn More about Happy Heart Day!