Transgender Day of Remembrance 2011: Remembering Our Dead, Seeking Justice for Our Living.
Sunday, Nov. 20 is the 13th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance. On this day we grieve the deaths and memorialize and celebrate the lives of persons who have died at the hands of those whose hatred and prejudice toward transgender people has led to acts of unspeakable violence against an oppressed community. On this day we also call attention to the ongoing oppression and violence against transgender persons.
According to statistics summarized in a 2010 report by the Transgender Europe (TGEU) Trans Murder Monitoring Project, “every second day a homicide of a trans person is being reported.”
The report of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released this past July represents data from 17 anti-violence programs in 15 states across the U.S.A. In 2010 there were 27 reported hate murder victims of LGBT and HIV-affected people in 2010, representing a 23-percent increase over 2009. A disproportionate number (70 percent) were people of color, and nearly half of the victims (44 percent) were transgender women.
Murders of transgender persons are often characterized by extreme violence committed by persons filled with deep-seated hatred. This hatred is often born of the language of marginalization that characterizes much of the everyday rhetoric against transgender people and communities. According to Clarence Patton, former Acting Executive Director of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, “individual victims of bias crimes suffer tremendously. Hate-motivated assaults generally involve more brutality than other assaults.” He also writes, “Besides being an assault against an individual, a bias crime is an assault against a community, and sends a clear message of fear to that entire community.”
The landmark 2011 report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey of 6,450 participants across the United States reveals the systemic oppression faced by the transgender community. The report reveals that anti-transgender bias interlaced with systemic racism is particularly devastating to the transgender community. Many respondents to the survey live in extreme poverty. And an almost unbelievable 41 percent of respondents report having made a suicide attempt, compared to 1.6 percent of the general population.
Transgender people experience significant harassment and discrimination in education, employment discrimination and economic insecurity, housing discrimination and homelessness, discrimination in public accommodations, barriers to receiving updated identification documents, abuse by police and in prison, and discrimination in health care and poor health outcomes.
And so we continue to gather as a community every Nov. 20, the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, to celebrate the lives of those among us who are killed each year by those who continue to harbor fear and hatred of transgender persons.
Let us work together to educate and help others understand transgender identities so that someday we may bring an end to ignorance and fear at the root of transphobia.
Let us work together to open our hearts so that all people are respected and accepted without regard to gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, social class or economic situation, ability, or age.