Today is the 15th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a solemn tribute to those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice, and a day to raise awareness of the constant threat of brutality faced by the transgender community.
The annual event — founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer, columnist, and activist — was first held to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998, kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999.
Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
Since then, hundreds of cities around the country and the world have hosted annual Transgender Day of Remembrance events in solidarity with transgender hate crime victims.
And although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identifies as transgender, each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.
Statistics on anti-transgender violence are startling. A 2012 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program (NCAVP) finds that transgender people were 1.67 times more likely to face threats and intimidation compared to the broader LGBT community, and that 53.8 percent of anti-LGBT homicide victims were transgender women, marking a 40 percent increase from 2011.
Article continues belowAdditionally, 78 percent of transgender children in grades K-12 reported being harassed in school, 35 percent physically assaulted, and 12 percent sexually assaulted, according to a 2011 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
“Today as we remember our transgender brothers and sisters lost to archaic hate and senseless violence, we stand together as one LGBT community,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We will always keep the victims of anti-transgender violence front of mind as we continue the fight for full equality.”
For a list of of vigils and remembrances worldwide, visit www.transgenderdor.org.