Today marks the 12th 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: Brenda of Rome, Italy, Wanchai Tongwijit of Phuket City, Thailand, Mariah Malina Qualls of San Francisco, California, Estrella (Jose Angel) Venegas of Mexicali, Mexico, Wong of Bernama, Malaysia, Myra Chanel Ical and Gypsy of Houston, Texas, Derya Y. of Antalya, Turkey, Fevzi Yener of Şehremin, Istanbul, Dino Curi Huansi of Parma, Italy, Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar of Queens, New York, Toni Alston of Charlotte, North Carolina, Ashley Santiago Ocasio of Corozal, Puerto Rico, Azra of Izmir, Turkey, Chanel (Dana A. Larkin) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Angie González Oquendo of Caguas, Puerto Rico, Sandy Woulard of Chicago, Illinois, Imperia Gamaniel Parson of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Victoria Carmen White of Maplewood, New Jersey, Justo Luis González García of Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, Irem of Bursa, Turkey, Stacey Lee of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Emanuelly Colaço Taborda of Parana, Brazil, an unidentified trans woman in Jakarta, Indonesia, an unidentified trans woman in Chihuahua, Mexico, an unidentified trans woman in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, an unidentified victim in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, two unidentified victims in Sheikhupura, Pakistan, 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.]