Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is commemorated on November 20th annually. This day, as well as the forecoming week is used to raise awareness among the general public about the violence transgender persons experience on a daily basis in their communities across the globe.
TDoR is the day we remember all those who have been victims of murder, violence and brutal torture solely because of their gender identity, or because their gender is non-compliant with the binary heteronormative standards. It is of utmost importance to point out that we live in a world of violence, and yet the violence against transgender and transsexual persons almost always goes unnoticed. We cannot allow the stories of trans* victims to be forgotten.
Rita Hester, a trans* woman, was killed in her apartment on 28th November, 1998 in Allston, Massachusetts. The commemoration of TDoR in 1999 was started by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a trans* woman, activist and advocate for trans* persons, in the memory of Rita.
According to the "TTM Update Trans Remembrance Day" issued by Transgender Europe (TGEU), from October 1st 2018 to September 30th 2019, 331 trans* persons were killed worldwide, which is 60 cases more than last year.
When we take a closer look at this situation, we become aware of the fact that these are the numbers of reported cases only. Many cases went unreported or they weren’t characterized as a hate crime, which they should have been. An additional problem that raises concern is the fact that many countries don’t prosecute the murders of trans* persons, so it is impossible to get the right estimate!
The stigma, violence and discrimination against trans * persons is real and embedded in the societies around the world. They form part of a constant stuructural oppression that prevents trans* persons from exercising their basic human rights.
Trans* persons are exposed to a great amount of hate, torture, physical and sexual violence, as well as murder, daily. There are many reported cases where the violence against trans* persons is committed in their own homes, mostly by their parents. In one case, a father beat his transgender daughter to death, because he was trying to ‘teach’ her how to be a man.
Visibility is key for trans* persons. It’s important to note that anyone whose gender identity does not fit into typical binary patterns, who isn’t ‘sufficiently’ masculine or feminine can become a victim of transphobia. Sometimes appearance or gender expression can be a motive for violence. As we pointed out, we live in a vicious circle of violence, so our task is to break that circle, talk about trans* persons, their rights, educate others to respect trans* persons, their names and identities.
We would like to pay tribute to those who are no longer with us. We honor them because they were courageous enough to live their lives in spite of the society that consistently oppressed them. Often, in our local communities, trans* persons are percieved as crazy. For many trans* persons that ‘crazy persona’ was a cover that allowed them to survive. ‘S’ used that cover too, she was brutally murdered ten years ago in a Sarajevo neighbourhood. Nobody covered the story of her murder, because how would they know what it’s like being a trans* person. But ‘S’ knew who she was very well. So did ‘D’. A local ‘crazy person’ from Banja Luka.
We owe a special tribute to the courage of those who do not conform to gender norms, who are struggling on a daily basis, who do not have access to health care, the necessary medicine, who cannot get a job, who have to hide and be what they are only when they remain completely alone.
Our fight is far from over, it has just started. 3314 is not and cannot be just a number. 3314 trans* persons have been killed by hatred in the past 20 years, and we must not ever forget this. We will continue our fight and scream loudly for those who are invisible and for those who no longer have a voice to scream.
We invite you to symbolically commemorate this day by burning a candle or setting a mark as a token of #TDoR. And don't forget, if you take a look around, you’ll surely notice you know at least one trans* person. So react, and stop transphobic jokes and violence you witness. Only together can we win in this fight!
Author: Admir Adilović
Translated and adapted by: Lejla Delalić
This text was published with the support of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway, but solely those of the author.