Nancy Pelosi, Keir Starmer and Joe Biden pay sobering tributes to trans community. But it’s even more telling whose voices are silent

Trans Day of Remembrance

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Kier Starmer were among the many world leaders and political heavyweights paying tribute on Trans Day of Remembrance, a day to honour and remember the many lives lost to transphobic violence.

Their words of solidarity were particularly poignant as 2020 draws to a close, going down in history as the deadliest year for transgender murders in the US since records began.

President-elect Biden acknowledged this troubling fact as he reaffirmed his pledge to protect and empower transgender citizens.

“In so many ways, 2020 has been a year of tremendous suffering and loss,” he said in a sobering statement. “At least 37 transgender and gender-nonconforming people have been killed this year, most of them Black and brown transgender women. It’s intolerable.”

His words were echoed by vice president-elect Harris, who reiterated the horrific statistics and vowed: “Today and every day we must recommit to ending this epidemic.”

House speaker Nancy Pelosi also paid her respects in a lengthy Trans Day of Remembrance statement that honoured the “countless, too often nameless transgender Americans who have faced brutal violence, discrimination and murder for having the courage to live as their authentic selves”.

Over in the UK, Labour leader Kier Starmer said his party was committed to”a society free from hatred and discrimination,” while shadow first secretary of state Angela Rayner promised that “the Labour party stands proudly with the trans community”.

London mayor Sadiq Khan, who has previously declared himself a firm trans ally, marked Trans Day of Remembrance urging others to fight against transphobia and protect the “safety and dignity” of trans and gender non-conforming people.

Tributes for Trans Day of Remembrance were also paid by the Women’s Institute, the Green party’s Caroline Lucas, feminist author Mona Eltahawy, tennis legend Billie Jean King and musician Hozier, who famously raised the trans flag at a performance in the London Palladium last year.

But it was particularly telling to see the names who opted not to mark the important day.

There was nothing from UK prime minister Boris Johnson, whose plans to scrap trans self-identification were stridently condemned by cross-party LGBT+ groups this year – and who is currently under intense scrutiny for his decision to axe anti-LGBT+ bullying initiatives.

Nor was there anything from Liz Truss, whose role as minster for women and equalities would certainly warrant acknowledging the Trans Day of Remembrance. Her shocking dismissal of the Gender Recognition Act reforms would give her good reason to rebuild trust with this community, yet Truss didn’t even manage a simple tweet.

Her counterpart in the Liberal Democrats, Wera Hobhouse, also had nothing to say despite her earlier condemnation of Truss’ attack on trans rights.

And the Labour MP Rosie Duffield was pointedly silent, too, despite her repeated insistence this year that she is not transphobic.

“I am, and always have been, completely supportive of trans rights. I have spent decades campaigning for equality and supporting LGBT+ rights,” she claimed in August – but if she had any thoughts on the Trans Day of Remembrance, she kept them to herself.