Chicago trans-led non-profit emphasizes resilience over victimization on Trans Day of Remembrance

CHICAGO -- Transgender Day of Remembrance, or TDOR, has been celebrated on Nov. 20 for more than 20 years. It's a day meant to honor the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost to acts of anti-transgender violence.

This year, one trans-led non-profit in Chicago is changing the meaning of the 'R' in the acronym from Remembrance to Resilience.

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"I believe that a lot of it frames Trans people as victims and that's something that I'm not," Alexis Martinez said. "Trans people are resourceful, they're resilient and in many cases they're revolutionary."

The Chicago Therapy Collective has been hosting the showcase for years, but this time it's virtual to ensure safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This is part of our 'Trans Art Is' initiative," said Iggy Ladden, founder of The Collective. "We're bringing you really talented Trans artists and showing you the ways in which they're spearheading cultural transformation."

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The show has a variety of acts from drag to spoken word, comedy and even film.

"We are celebrating our gifts and our talents but we're remembering lives lost in the struggle so we want to use our talent as a tool for activism and social change," performance artist Hereaclitus Vernon said.

"Trans people are people," musician Asha Adisa added. "They are people who have experiences that are deep and vast and their stories deserve to be talked about and heard."