Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors the memory of those murdered because of anti-transgender prejudice, is recognized annually on November 20.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed in late November in recognition of the 1998 murder of Rita Hester. Rita was a highly visible member of the transgender community in her native Boston, where she worked locally on education around transgender issues. On Saturday, Nov 28, Rita was stabbed 20 times in her apartment. A neighbor called the police and Rita was rushed to the hospital, but passed away from cardiac arrest only moments after being admitted. Ten years later, Rita's murderer (or murderers) has still not been found.
In 1999, one year after Rita's murder, advocate and writer Gwendolyn Ann Smith coordinated a vigil in Rita's honor. The vigil commemorated not only Rita, but also all the transgender people lost to violence and hatred.
Organizations throughout the world - from Groupe Activiste Trans in Paris to Human Rights Commission of Tel Aviv in Israel to Diritti in Movimiento in Pescara, Italy - now recognize the day.
We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred based violence. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored.
Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. This trend shows no sign of abating. According to the International Transgender Day of Remembrance website, there have been 14 known transgender people murdered during 2008 in the U.S. alone. As murders of transgender people are often underreported, or the identity of transgender murder victims are misreported, there is no way to know accurate numbers.
Woodhull mourns the loss of those lost to violence and oppression and encourages you to take part in observances in your local area.
National Survey on Transgender Experiences of Discrimination in the U.S.
If you identify as gender non-conforming in any way, please take the time to record your experiences and be a part of this historic effort. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, whose Policy Institute is conducting the survey, wants the survey to capture the full spectrum of gender expressions in our communities and record how all forms of prejudice and discrimination get activated across a broad spectrum of genders/gender expressions and sexualities.
Click here to take the survey.