Today marks the 11th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is set aside to memorialize those killed as a result of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice resulting from fear and ignorance. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 spawned the "Remembering Our Dead" online project and candlelight vigil.
This year, we remember: Yasmin and Noelia of Honduras, Taysia Elzy and Michael Hunt of Indianapolis, Kátia Otacílio Vilela and Marcela Cairo Souza of Jataí, Brazil, Alexa Rojas Castro of Monterrey, Mexico, Cynthia Nicole of Comayaguela, Honduras, Aline Da Silva Ribeira of Castelfranco Veneto, Italy, Caprice Curry of San Francisco, Rovilson Teixeira of Londrina, Brazil, Minja Kochis of Belgrade, Serbia, "Víctor Manuel" Albor Camacho and "Juan Carlos" Guillén Bautista of Acámbaro, Mexico, Nicole Castillo García of Tarapoto, Perú, Cita Solorzano of Asunción Ixtaltepec, Mexico, Camila Hernández Nieto of Sincelejo, Colombia, Noor Azlan Khamis of Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia, Will Teixeira da Silva of Recife, Brazil, "Ailton" Correa Maia, Juliana Martins, Fernanda Botelho, Jenifer, Dara, and Rafaele of Curitiba, Brazil, Cristy of Guatemala-City, Guatemala, Puttalakshmi of Bangalore, India, Camila Pereira of Uberlândia, Brazil, Cris Francisco das Neves of Cabo de Santo Agostinho, Brazil, Vicky Londoño Chavarría of Ibagué, Columbia, Pequeña P of Gualeguaychú, Argentina, Miriam Nunes Lucas of Ribeirão das Neves, Brazil, Guimarães de Lima and "Wanderson Wanderley" Teixeira da Rocha of João Pessoa, Brazil, Kirsi Ubrí, Jeva Padilla, and Ramon Martinez of Santiago, Dominican Republic, "Julio" Avila Albarracín of Mar del Plata, Argentina, Ebru Soykan (aka Dilan Pirinc) and Hadise of Istanbul, Turkey, Adriana Sánchez López of Juchitan, Mexico, Eda Yildirm of Bursa, Turkey, Sasha Estefania of Caracas, Venezuela, Smail L. of Valencia, Spain, Gisela "Roni" Galante of Gualeguaychú, Argentina, Melek K and Cagla of Ankara, Turkey, Jimmy McCollough (aka Image Devereux) of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Carneiro de Sousa of Fortaleza, Brazil, dos Santos of Varzea Grande, Brazil, Diksy Jones of Wellington, New Zealand, Tigresa de Souza Reis of Feira de Santana, Brazil, Xiomaran Duras of Caracas, Venezuela, Foxy Ivy of Detroit, Papucha of La Victoria, Peru, Kelly (Frederick) Watson and Terri Benally of Albuquerque, Tanya Ardón and Catherine of San Salvador, El Salvador, Carla Regina Bento of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Anita Fajardo Ríos of El Carmen, Mexico, Luana of Maceió, Brazil, Kamilla of Volgograd, Russia, Christopher Jermaine Scott of Philadelphia, Cesar Torres of El Paso, Beyonce (Eric) Lee of New Orleans, Kanan of Setapak, Malaysia, Tyli'a Mack (aka NaNa Boo) of Washington DC, Paulina Ibarra of East Hollywood, Kristina Muça of Tirana, Albania, Andrea Waddell of Brighton, UK, Destiny Lauren of London, UK, Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado of Cayey, Puerto Rico, an unidentified victim in Gebze, Turkey, an unidentified victim in Milan, Italty, an unidentified victim in Guayaquil, Ecuador, an unidentified victim in Baltimore, an unidentified victim in Penang, Malaysia, an unidentified victim in Algeria, an unidentified victim in Honduras, nine unidentified victims in Guatemala, fourteen unidentified victims in Brazil, and eighteen unidentified victims in Venezuela, and all the other trans women and men around the world who lost their lives to transphobia this year, whose faces we never saw and names we never heard, because they were living on the margins of societies who did not respect nor want them.
Julia Serano, a trans activist and author of the oft-mentioned Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, has noted 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, for example, frequently 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, 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, we must always be fierce advocates and allies together, so that we may never add a new name on a victims list ever again.
[Photo via LA IndyMedia's coverage of 2006's Day of Remembrance.]