Why we need Transgender Day of Remembrance more than ever

(HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)

November 20 marks the international Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual event dedicated to mourning the trans and gender non-conforming people who have been killed due to their gender identity.

Many cities will hold vigils this evening to commemorate the approximate 250 people killed as a result, with participating venues available on the TDoR website.

The events were first held in 1998, the following the murder of Rita Hester, a transgender woman of colour in Massachusetts.

Many deaths of trans and gender non-conforming people go unreported. When the deaths are reported, trans people are frequently misgendered in reports, making it especially hard to correctly count the number of deaths in a given year.

The Trans Murder Monitoring project, part of charity Transgender Europe, published their annual report on the reported deaths that have occurred in 2017.

This report includes the names of every transgender and gender non-conforming person killed as a result of their gender identity.

In the report, we can see that although 2017 has proved to be the deadliest year on record for trans people in the United States there has been a slight downtrend in global deaths compared to 2016.

However, the trend across the years has still steadily increased since the start of the Trans Murder Monitoring in 2008, and 2017 remains one of the deadliest years on record.

Why we need Transgender Day of Remembrance more than ever

The report shows a significant difference in the geographic locations of those killed, with the large majority of reported cases occurring in Central and South America.

Why we need Transgender Day of Remembrance more than ever

Despite this briefly promising decrease in global murders of trans people, and with a recent study finding that a third of Americans believe that trans rights have gone too far, Transgender Day of Remembrance is more important than ever.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband compared the frequent attacks on transgender people in the British press to the outrage that gay people and lesbians faced in the 1980’s.

Discrimination against transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary people is a regular feature, with this discrimination sadly increasing towards transgender children.

The statistics from the Trans Murder Monitoring project do not include those who have died by suicide.

However, a 2016 report by the National Centre for Transgender Equality found that 40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide with the report highlighting “pervasive mistreatment, harassment and violence in pretty much every facet of life whether that be in the schools, the workplace or family life.”

A similar report, published this year by LGBT+ group Stonewall, revealed that nearly half of transgender children have attempted suicide.

Mermaids, a charity that supports trans and gender non-conforming children and their families has reported a significant increase in calls to their helpline over the last year.

Why we need Transgender Day of Remembrance more than ever
Mermaids CEO Susie Green and Justine Greening (Image by Chris Jepson)

In a statement for Transgender Day of Remembrance, CEO Susie Green said: “It has been nineteen years since Rita Hester, a transgender woman of colour was murdered, prompting the inception of the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR).

“Over the last nineteen years, while there have been steps towards greater acceptance of trans people, the levels of violence towards the trans community has remained unacceptably high.

“TDOR is our time to acknowledge and mourn those who have been victims to the still prevalent levels of transphobia, violence and hatred.”

“The last nineteen years have also seen a whole new generation be born, and with it, the acknowledgement of transgender identities of young people and children.

While our young generation bring greater acceptance and hope, sadly though our helplines and community groups we still hear of young trans people who are, all too often, suffering from hate, discrimination and violence.

“On this day of mourning, Mermaids stands with the transgender community and its allies, in sadness for the too many that have died (for they are all somebody’s child), and in hope, that the future for our young generation will bring with it greater compassion, understanding and acceptance.”

Related: Sarah Champion MP – We must listen to the voices of trans people