Transgender Day of Remembrance: Remaining hopeful as we remember

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As we honor the 16th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance today, we are reminded once again of the extreme vulnerability of trans people, especially trans women, who are targeted for violence worldwide.

Since 2008, the Transgender Murder Monitoring Project of Transgender Europe has recorded 1,612 trans murders. Tragically, just this year the project recorded 226 killings, mostly in the Americas: Brazil (113), Mexico (31), Honduras (12), the USA (10) and Venezuela (10).

We continue to be disturbed that local and national governments rarely prosecute the perpetrators of anti-trans violence or even keep records of the murders. There are few laws on the books to protect trans people from discrimination or allow for easy updating of official documents to match one's gender after transition.

While we take time to recognize and honor the lives of those we lost this year, we can also be hopeful that continued steps like those taken at the United Nations condemning violence, discrimination and extrajudicial killings will send a message to governments everywhere that violence must not be tolerated and leaders must act to prevent it. We can be hopeful that as more governments pass laws recognizing an individual’s right to determine their own gender identity, including a law which will be voted on soon in Chile, will signal to society that trans individuals have the same rights as everyone else.

When communities come together to express their outrage at the murder of trans people, like many did recently in the Philippines, and around the world, when Jennifer Laude was murdered, we are taking power in to our own hands. We are making it clear this violence cannot go unpunished.

IGLHRC and our partners continue to document violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and work to hold governments accountable to this violence at regional and international bodies. In 2014 we released a 200-page report detailing violence perpetrated by family members and government officials against lesbians, bisexual women and trans people in Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka—with specific recommendations to stop the violence.

Andrés Rivera Duarte, of the Organización de Transexuales por la Dignidad de la Diversidad (OTD) is our partner in documenting violence and discrimination against trans people in Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica for a report to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) next year. In October, Andrés, Wilson Castañeda of Caribe Afirmativo and Marianne Møllmann, director of programs at IGLHRC testified at a public hearing at the IACHR.

By protesting and documenting murders of trans people killed simply for who they are and advocating for protection of trans individuals in all aspects of their lives, we are hopeful that soon we won’t be remembering and honoring the lives of the hundreds more we’ve lost—we’ll be celebrating new legislation and the accomplishments and contributions of those who are living.

For a listing of Transgender Day of Remembrance events organized in cities across the world, visit: