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In Memoriam

Community, allies remember victims lost to anti-transgender hate crimes

Sunday, November 20, 2011
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Today marks the 13th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance around the world, a day when the LGBTQ and allied community honor those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice, and seek to raise awareness of the ongoing threat of brutality faced by the transgender community.

The day of memorial was created in response to the murder of Rita Hester, a popular and outgoing transwoman, who was brutally stabbed at least 20 times in the chest in her Boston apartment by an unknown assailant in November 1998.

Hester’s death prompted community members to organize a candlelight vigil and march that December. Activists in San Francisco created the Transgender Day of Remembrance event in 1999 in her memory.

In the years that have followed since Hester’s murder, this day has been set aside each year to commemorate the lives of the victims by way of memorial services, vigils and other events to raise public awareness of hate crimes against transgendered people, crimes that are rarely reported in the mainstream media.

Of the more than 320 transgender deaths reported in the U.S. over the past 30 years, many of the victims are still unnamed and were brutally beaten and tortured — their deaths largely ignored.

In 2011, there were at least 23 more lives lost to anti-transgender hate, including seven in the United States.

“From Minnesota to Maryland and from Houston to Detroit to the nation’s capital, violence against transgender people has continued unabated this year,” said Allyson Robinson, HRC Deputy Director of Diversity.

“These crimes attempt to erase transgender lives and terrorize our community. On the Transgender Day of Remembrance, we defy that erasure and intimidation by coming together to remember those we’ve lost.”

This year there is some encouraging news, reported the HRC.

Polling released earlier this month by the Public Religion Research Institute shows strong majorities of Americans favor rights and legal protections for transgender people. Key findings include:

  • Overwhelming majorities of Americans – including strong majorities of all religious and partisan groups – agree that transgender people should have the same civil rights and legal protections as others;
  • Approximately three-quarters of Americans say Congress should pass employment nondiscrimination laws to protect transgender people, and a similar majority favors Congress’s recent expansion of hate crimes legislation to protect transgender people; and
  • Approximately two-thirds of Americans are able to identify what the term “transgender” means and report being well informed about transgender people and issues.

“Despite the positive news that more Americans favor rights and legal protections for transgender people, across the country, and particularly in Washington, DC, we are mindful of the increase in violence against the transgender community,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

“This Transgender Day of Remembrance, we salute those who put a face on this anti-trans violence. Educating others about their horrific stories will move us to a place where members of our community no longer need to live in fear,” Solmonese said.

To find a Local event and more information about Transgender Day of Remembrance, visit transgenderdor.org.

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