“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Every 20th of November, we remember transgender individuals who lost their lives over the year as a result of violence, fear, and hatred all over the world. It is an opportunity for us to educate others about the transgender experience and raise awareness to the struggles and hardships we face as a community. This year the deaths have reached a new high in many nations, with more murders occurring throughout the globe than any one of the last five years. Many of these deaths go unmentioned by media and only a handful of their murders are thoroughly investigated by police. For those that are investigated, their killers rarely are caught or convicted. In 48 of the 5o states in the U.S. "trans-panic", the feeling of being so shocked at the discovery that someone is transgender that you were unable to control your actions leading to the individual's death, is considered a reasonable and valid legal defense.
The first TDoR took place in 1999 when Rita Hester, a transgender woman, was killed in Allston Massachusetts. Since then, TDoR has grown into a massive day of education and awareness within the community. Events take place all over the world, including vigils, art shows, movie screenings, food and blood drives, marches, and many of these events have stations where you can get checked for sexually transmitted diseases. GLAAD has extensively covered TDoR year after year and has called for more prevalent media attention.
Transgender people of color and more specifically transgender women of color have a higher rate of experiencing discrimination, hate speech, violence and even being murdered. This fact speaks to how transgender activism requires an intersectional approach as many of these deaths are not just a result of transphobia, but also endemic racism, male privilege, and other cultural and social bias. We should be interacting and supportive of other oppressed groups and peoples to raise awareness of all these issues as they are inevitably tied together and stem from the same root problem: fear and hatred as a result of a lack of education.
Click the "In Memorium" link above to go to the TDoR website which has a list of names of the people who have been killed since November 20th, 2016. Many of these people were unable to be identified for a variety of reasons. Causes of death include being shot, stabbed, asphyxiated, burned to death, decapitated, intentionally struck by a vehicle, dismemberment, castration, torture, as well as unknown causes. Keep in mind, these are only the deaths that were reported and a result of violence. Accidental deaths and suicides are not included, and there are a number of missing person cases that have gone unresolved. Considering that in some areas of the world, reports of the death of a transperson can and may be tainted as police or family sometimes refuse to identify the deceased by their desired names and pronouns because they have a personal bias toward transgender people and experiences.