(update on info already put out to the UK press)
Throughout this week, members of the UK’s transgender community will be coming together at locations up and down the country to commemorate the death of hundreds of individuals murdered, worldwide for no other reason that they are trans – and to bear witness to a shocking increase in reported murders over the last twelve months.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) takes place on November 20 each year in hundreds of cities in more than twenty countries across the globe. This year, it will be marked by ceremonies in at least a dozen UK locations.
The first TDOR was held in honor of Rita Hester, a trans activist murdered in 1998. Since then, it has expanded its focus to remember all those who have been murdered in the previous year, and follows the annual release of statistics compiled by the Trans Respect Monitoring Project.
A tsunami of violence and viciousness
This year, the project identified at least 265 trans people murdered in the last 12 months, an increase of approx 20% on the previous year.
The figures highlight major increases in killings in Mexico (from 23 to 47 or an increase of 104%), the USA (9 to 15, or 67%) and Brazil (92 to 124, or 35%). However, it should be stressed that these are only the numbers reported as trans murders.
International observers suspect that similar rates of murder go unreported in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, in part because in these areas being transgender is often confused with being gay. In addition, in many of these areas, trans individuals are killed with what appears to be the tacit support of the state.
Of particular concern over the last twelve months has been a rise in the level of violence accompanying these murders, and a huge increase in recorded killings which appear to be extra-judicial executions. These include drive-by shootings (18) and an increase in the number of people stoned to death (8).
The most common cause of death was being shot (91), often victims were shot many times, 38 were stabbed
Reported cases include those of Juliano Almeida de Andrade, Gabriella de Santana and Milena, who were ordered to lie down on the ground in the middle of a public square in Goiania in Brazil by a number of men who got out of a car carrying guns. They were then executed by being shot in the back, on 7th September this year.
Demetrio Apaza Mayta, who was beaten and tortured to death in La Paz, Bolivia on 19 March by a mob of around 400 people.
Further shocking facts revealed in this year’s statistics include1:
- The average age of those murdered was 28;
- 17 were teenagers, including four aged only 16;
- 88 were in their 20s;
- 40 were in their 30s, with all but 3 of the rest were in their 40s
- 112 were aged 30 or under;
- For 93 age is not known: in 56 cases, not even their names have been recorded;
- 12 of those murdered were LGBT activists;
- In only 13 cases has any arrest been made. In at least 2 cases the murders were committed by the police.
TDOR events are organised by trans people for trans people – though most events are fully open to the public. Events usually include a candlelit vigil, the reading out of names of those murdered in the past year, plus poems, songs and letters performed by those that wish to make a public statement of their feelings.
Some of the events taking place this week include:
Monday 19 November
Colchester (Living my life): Outhouse East, 19 East Hill, CO1 2QX Colchester, 7.30 pm to 10pm
This special event on the eve of TDOR provides opportunity to come together and reflect not just on lives lost but also to look at the future for the transgender movement. It is also a chance to come a view the stunning ‘Living My Life’ exhibition, a series of photographs capturing and celebrating the individual lives of Trans people.
Guest speaker at the event will be trans activist and editor of META magazine, Paris Lees, who is also a patron of the project.
Tuesday 20 November
London: University of London Union, Malet St, WC1E 7HY, 7pm.
As well as reading out names, there will be musical performances from Naechaun and CN Lester and Poetry by Roz Kaveney and Elaine O’Neil
University of Warwick (Coventry): Piazza, on campus, 7pm, primarily for students attending the University, but open to all who wish to attend.
During the day, organisers will be chalking outlines of the deceased across campus,accompanied by printed information panels detailing each victim’s name, picture if available, and manner of passing.
Sunday 25 November
Manchester: Sackville Park (off Canal Street, Manchester), 3.45pm. There will be a one minute’s silence followed by a reading of the names of the deceased by the Beacon of Hope. Those who wish to do so may participate in reading the list of names or bring a poem or speech of their own to read.
The event is expected to last approximately one hour. All are welcome to bring a candle, flowers or another appropriate tribute. http://www.facebook.com/events/473223149384123/
For a fuller list and additional details of the dozen or more events scheduled to take place in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland this week, visit http://www.transgenderdor.org/
Notes for editors:
1 Thanks to Natacha Kennedy, co-organiser of the London TDoR, for taking the time to go through the statistical release and analyse the figures.