Every year, November 20 marks the Transgender Day of Remembrance, the annual observance to memorialize the lives of transgender people everywhere who were killed in acts of transphobic violence. And in 2020, trans stars Peppermint, Mila Jam and Deja “The Lady Deja Davenport” Smith are here to remind you of that fact.
On Friday (Nov. 20), NMAC (formerly known as the National Minority AIDS Council) released a new video titled “But … I Survived,” a PSA aimed at raising awareness for the violence still faced by transgender people around the world. Throughout the video, Peppermint, Jam and Smith all appear, going about their days as Sia’s 2015 single “Alive” plays in the background.
Eventually, each of the women in the video find photographs of one of the more than 30 transgender people killed in the United States in 2020, before deciding to stand up and mourn their loss. More actors appear throughout the video to show more photographs, before eventually all three stars wind up together, wrapped in a transgender flag, urging those watching to “resist.”
In a statement released alongside the video, Peppermint said she wanted to help honor the memories of those lives we’ve lost this year. “Today is an important day for us all to reflect on those who we lost, and celebrate those who are still here,” she said. “The video either directly or indirectly addresses the lives of Trans People of Color, who are still today affected by an incredible amount of grief. It truly is life imitating art. And as heavy as this is on my heart, being able to gather with friends and fellow artists to create this meaningful video feels wonderful.”
Jam continued, saying that she wanted to remind those out there fighting for trans rights that giving up is not an option. “It’s extremely hard for Trans folk, especially Trans women of color, to find safe spaces and support,” she said. “It’s also about sisterhood. I don’t know where I would be without my sisters. They keep me sane, grounded, and filled with love. This message is so important now because more than ever, Trans women are actually thriving. Even though we are still being murdered at extremely high rates, we are letting our presence be known. We are fighting for our happiness. We must celebrate our resilience. And you don’t have to be Trans to feel the message.”
Smith agreed, adding that with studies showing that 80% of Americans have never met anyone who is Trans means that messages like this are more important than ever. “we’re at a point in history where many violent attacks and murders of Trans people, specifically Trans women of color, are unreported or unsolved,” she said. “Our government passes sweeping legislation that affects the lived experiences of Trans people. With our civil rights and livelihoods on the line, we need to spread the message that Trans people have always been here. Our experiences are valid and we will not be erased.”
Check out the video below, and learn more about the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and what you can do to support Trans lives, here.