Transgender Day of Remembrance: the dire statistics which explain it all

(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.

Upcoming events

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.

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

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.

5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Jeanne said,

    You have done a good job of reporting the reason for the Day of Remembrance with these two posts. I sometimes feel that everyone of these murders detailed is horrific, but that the statistics are not that significant. One day a year we make this point and it is worth doing I suppose, but I worry that promotes fear in thousands who remain in the closet with their transgender souls. I always wonder how many cis women in my state are killed by their husbands during this same time frame. I can’t help but feel that this message for our one world wide recognition needs to mature. I am thankful for this activism that endures each year, but wish for more time promoting solutions, investigating reasons and presenting the positives. Things are getting better, we have new allies, new protections, new acceptance, larger community. If seen as advertising, this campaign is negative, very few advertising budgets are spent on negative advertising, why should we spend our capital this way?

  2. 2

    Look at it this way. There are between 2,000 and 10,000 cis-gender people for every trans person (depending on how you count and which statistics you favour). 265 murders among such a relatively small group therefore equates to the murder of between half a million and two and a half million cis-gender people.

    If any group of cis-gender people were being murdered every year then I think someone would take note. Regardless of the numbers, a 20% growth is notable in itself.

    We don’t judge murder by numbers of course. One is just as bad as a million from the perspective of the victim and those who care about them.

    However this understanding of the disproportionality of trans deaths should shame far more people who reckon themselves to be concerned about justice.

  3. 3

    […] great blogs detailing why this day matters. I suggest you read them, starting with Jane Fae’s document of the tsunami of violence and viciousness. This information must be shared. But I have something else to tell […]

  4. 4

    Danielle Davis said,

    I would like to make a couple of points, firstly this number of 256 murders makes no note of the motivations, certainly many of them are hate driven, but you can see from the TVT project that a number of cases were recorded as other motivations, such as robbery, domestic violence, racial etc. One case was actually committed by a trans person, the figure includes the murder this year in London which has not yet gone to trial so we can’t assume the motivation yet. A number of the cases make no note of the motivation and so assumptions have been made, especially in latin America these peoples lives are often embroiled in drugs and set in a back drop of sex work so to blanket them all as hate crimes is wrong.

    Secondly as you pointed out this data is drastically incomplete with many countries showing no data.

    lastly no thought has been given to missing persons or people driven to suicide by harassment. It is my humble opinion that the true figure, sadly,is far higher than what the statistic that the TVT project shows.

    As always a great article and well written, thank you Jane.


  5. 5

    […] family". TransRespect-Transphobia – IDAHOT 2013 This article cites last year's statistics: Transgender Day of Remembrance: the dire statistics which explain it all | Jane Fae's Blog […]

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