By Shawna Healey
This week marks Transgender Visibility Week, and Tuesday marked Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), honouring people around the world who have been killed due to anti-transgender violence.
The annual observance is on the 20 November and was first incepted in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith after the death of Rita Hester who was a well-known member of the transgender community in Boston, USA.
Gwendolyn Ann Smith explains the importance of the day: “The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people – sometimes in the most brutal ways possible – it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”
The week also observes Trans Visibility where people around the globe raise and address the visibility of transgender people and address the issues that trans people face.
The TDoR website memorialises all the people killed from anti-transgender violence. It currently includes 301 known victims in the past year.
A report titled ‘LGBT In Britain – Trans report,’ carried out by Stonewall, has investigated the experiences of more than 800 trans and non-binary people in the UK. The report found that more than one in eight trans people have been physically attacked by a colleague or customer in the last year.
The report also found more than half of trans people have hidden their identity in work for fear of discrimination, and 25% of trans people have experienced homelessness.
A respondent of the report, Willow aged 40, said: “Even just five years ago it was not safe for me to come out as trans, the pace of change has been amazing. Unfortunately, there now appears to be a backlash against that progress in the last year with hate from the media against trans increasing disturbingly in the last six months. This increasing transphobia is accelerating and is causing acute anxiety in my daily life.”
An American report by the Human Rights Campaign has highlighted the epidemic of violence against transgender people in the US. The report titled ‘Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America in 2018,’ has highlighted that 82% of the victims of anti-transgender violence.
The report also found that nearly three quarters of identified trans murder victims were either misgendered, referred to as a pronoun or form of address that does not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify, or deadnamed, called by their birth name instead of their chosen name, in the initial police or media reports surrounding their death.
Misgendering and deadnaming trans people is problematic and causes harm to police investigations because not only does it harbour distrust and resentment of the police by the transgender community, but people with information may only know the person by their chosen name.
The report also states that as well as hate-motivated violence, trans people face systemic discrimination in education, employment and family life, which can push them into circumstances such as sex work where they are more likely to face violence.
Barriers for black trans people in the US are even higher, where they face double the unemployment rate for all transgender people and four times that of the US general population.