November 19, 2015
Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is observed on 20 November every year. It began in 1999 as the Remembering Our Dead candlelight vigil in San Francisco after the brutal and still unsolved murder of Rita Hester on 28 November 1998.
Since statistics began to be collected in a structured manner, from January 2008 to December 2014, a period of just seven years, more than 1,700 trans murders have taken place. Many of the victims are left unidentifiable because of the brutality of their deaths, and those who can be identified meet no less brutal ends.
To name three from this year alone:
• Diosiany Munoz Robaina (24 year old) was stoned to death in Cuba, on 26 April
• Mercedes Williamson (17 years old) was beaten to death in Alabama, USA, on 10 February 2015
• Ashton O’Hara (25 year old) was stabbed to death then repeatedly run over by a vehicle in Detroit, USA on 14 July.
The sad fact is that in 48 US states it is possible to murder a trans person and then use as an acceptable defence the fact that you suddenly discovered the trans status of the victim and in a fit of shock and rage killed them. This is called the law of sudden revelation and has only recently been repealed in case of LGB-motivated murders. It is a reflection of the way Trans people are still viewed (and not just in the US) that it was not repealed in the case of Trans murders.
Events are held at TDoR but the common feature to most is a reading of those who have lost their lives to Transphobia in the previous 12 months. This reading names the person, where it is known, and the manner of the death. A candle is often lit for each of those lost.
Also remembered are the countless numbers who take their own lives every year as they eventually lose their struggle with gender dysphoria, or succumb to the constant pressure and abuse that just being identified as trans can bring.
This is a very serious and solemn event, akin to holocaust memorial day, for it remembers those who have lost their lives to brutal blind intolerance and ignorance. It is also a time of hope though, that in remembering and highlighting the deaths to the wider community, we can all work together to bring them an end.
Spare a thought for those that lost their lives, join us in fighting for change and raise awareness of Trans issues. The LGBT Charter can provide a good basis for campaigning activity. It is available at www.pcsproud.org.uk/charter.