Today marks the 9th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is "set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the 'Remembering Our Dead' web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester's murder—like most anti-transgender murder cases—has yet to be solved."
You can read about the people who have lost their lives to transphobia here, thanks to the diligence and dedication of Gwendolyn Ann Smith, who won't let them be forgotten.
Julia Serano, a trans activist and author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, notes, in a post at Feministing, that transphobia kills not just by violent action, but apathetic inaction.
Trans people are often targeted for violence because their gender presentation, appearance and/or anatomy falls outside the norms of what is considered acceptable for a woman or man. A large percentage of trans people who are killed are prostitutes, and their murders often go unreported or underreported due to the public presumption that those engaged in sex work are not deserving of attention or somehow had it coming to them.Lacking federal employment protections, transgender men and women are at higher risk for lack of insurance, adding to the difficulty of securing routine medical care from welcoming practitioners. Transmen in particular can have trouble locating accommodating gynecological services for annual pap smears, risking undiagnosed cervical cancer. The great 2001 documentary Southern Comfort spans the last year in the life of Robert Eads, an FTM transsexual who died of ovarian cancer after two dozen doctors refused him treatment.
Some trans people are killed as the result of being denied medical services specifically because of their trans status, for example, Tyra Hunter, a transsexual woman who died in 1995 after being in a car accident. EMTs who arrived on the scene stopped providing her with medical care—and instead laughed and made slurs at her—upon discovering that she had male genitals.
That's the kind of hate crime that doesn't make headlines. Or even federal hate crimes statistics.
We remember all the victims of violence and apathy today. The rest of the year, I'll continue to advocate on behalf of my trans sisters and brothers, I'll continue to pay attention, I'll continue to challenge the gender norms deviation from which feeds into violent transphobia, I'll stand with you fiercely, my friends.
[Photo via LA IndyMedia's coverage of last year's Day of Remembrance.]