Trans Day of Remembrance 2019

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Natalie

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« on: November 20, 2019, 10:06:13 am »
Today, November 20th, is the annual Trans Day of Remembrance. While pride events are celebratory, TDoR tells a more solemn story. This is the day we memorialize transgender individuals who have lost their lives to hate crimes, and acknowledge that the fight for queer rights, acceptance, and safety is far from over.

I'm going to share some statistics here, but I especially want to drive home that the reporting you'll read elsewhere is very likely to be US-centric. You might see mainstream outlets like USA Today cite a figure of 22 trans or gender nonconforming people having been killed this year, but that's 22 people in the United States alone. Additionally, TDoR tradition is to track deaths between autumn of one year and the next rather than January and December, and interpreting what counts as anti-trans violence can be slightly subjective, so data from different sources may vary.

So, let's talk numbers. The link in the first paragraph contains a plain text list of people killed with dates and causes, but that's pretty hard to parse. Here is a basic breakdown of murders between October 1st, 2018 and September 30th, 2019. Brazil had 130 reported deaths during that time; Mexico had 63; the United States comes in third with 31 killings, almost as many as were found in all Asian countries in this dataset. In total, 331 trans or GNC people died to hate crimes during this period. This is down from the same span from 2017-2018, in which 369 deaths were found, but it is indicative of a gradually rising trend in the US over the last several years.

That last link, though it measures year-to-year rather than fall-to-fall and doesn't have this year's data yet, gives us some more insight into vulnerable populations. 46% of victims from 2008 to 2018 were in their 20s. Of those for whom an occupation was reported, a majority were sex workers - it's not uncommon for trans people to have to turn to prostitution to get by, and they're at very high risk for violence, especially if they're people of colour. The most statistically fatal European country for trans people is Turkey, but its death toll across a ten year span is still less than the average yearly total in Brazil or Mexico. There's also info on cause and location of death if you care to click through for it.

From January 1st, 2008 to date, at least 3,314 people have died globally to reported anti-trans hate crimes. This should be taken as a conservative figure, however, as violence against minorities often goes misreported or unreported, and there are certainly other victims whose gender identities are inaccurate on the record. A basic breakdown of these long-term statistics is provided in the graphic below. The general trends are in line with both the ten year aggregate described above and this year's statistics. (Infographic source: https://transrespect.org/en/tmm-update-trans-day-of-remembrance-2019/)

Finally, there is a more detailed record of 2019 victims, compiled by TGEU, which you can find here. I'm putting a big content warning on this link, as it contains not just the victims' names and locations, but sources and quotes about the circumstances of their murders. It gets pretty heavy, but I'm leaving it here because the reality that people are facing needs to be acknowledged and confronted. Human rights don't begin and end at the limits of liberal cities, or at the US border.

So what does all this mean? The purpose of TDoR is not to bemoan the status quo, nor is it to admonish cis people for the actions of their broad group. If you're clicking past headlines thinking "So what?", the takeaway should be that things can be better, and minor actions can help make a difference; every raindrop contributes to the flood. When you show support toward your trans or GNC colleagues, you build trust that makes them less likely to reach into dark places looking for acceptance. When you call out hateful rhetoric or behavior, you stand a chance to prevent it from escalating and embolden others to speak up as well. When you educate others on queer issues, you're helping to counter fake news and fearmongering which directly feeds the number of fatalities above. And that's not even getting into the shockingly high rate of suicide attempts among trans people, or nonlethal abuse and harassment. We have the ability to make a difference in the lives of those around us - that's the point of all this. Ask questions, critique the methodology, content yourself with subtle shows of support, whatever, but do something.


 

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