Light a candle: the 18th Transgender Day of Remembrance
20 November is the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), dedicated to the memory of trans and gender-diverse persons who have been victims of homicide worldwide.
This year we commemorate 295 persons who have been reported killed these last 12 months, as well as all unrecorded. Their names and stories can be found here
“The violence gender diverse persons are exposed to is frequent and brutal, and the number of persons killed every year is devastating”, says Mina Skouen, Adviser on LGBTI issues in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. “Still, these crimes receive very little attention, and we do not see that authorities in the countries where the murders take place ensure proper investigation, or prevent them from happening”.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, to memorialize the transphobic murder of Rita Hester in Massachusetts 28 November 1998. The murder of Hester caused outcry and protest from the transgender community, and starting from a first commemorative action online TDoR has evolved into an international day of action, to ensure that the many people suffering from transphobic violence will not be forgotten. Every year, on occasion of this day, Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) research project releases a report of recorded killings. Altogether 2,264 killings of trans and gender-diverse persons have been reported between 1st of January 2008 and 30th of September 2016.
Among the European countries, Turkey and Italy have the highest number of murders; five persons each. This means yet another confirmation that Turkey is the most dangerous European country for trans persons. Despite massive criticism and repeated calls for action by human rights organizations and international institutions Turkey has not taken any significant steps to address the fact that there has been 43 recorded transphobic murders since 2008, more than in any other European country.
One of the five Turkish names on this years TMM list is trans activist Hande Kader who was found raped, tortured and burnt 12 August in Istanbul. She was well known from the forefront of the Turkish LGBTI movement, in particular from the banned Istanbul Pride in 2015 when she was blasted with water cannons by the police; sitting down while they tried to disperse the protests. She will always be remembered for her words to Turkish Media: “You take pictures, but you do not publish them. No-one is hearing our voices.”
Today, all over the world, activists read out the names of the 295 killed last year, expressing solidarity with those who are no longer among us. “Having Hande Kader’s words in mind; it is our responsibility to make sure that the voices of people who have lost their lives due to transphobic hatred will be heard” says Skouen. “And equally important, to raise awareness of the many human rights violations that are committed against the transgender community every day and do whatever is needed to prevent more names to be added to the TMM list”.