Transgender Day of Remembrance – let the future be different

Rita Hestler was stabbed to death on November 28th, 1998 in
Massachusetts because of transphobia and hatred and her murder has
not been solved yet.  In 1999, folks gathered to remember her with
a vigil and the Transgender Day of Remembrance was created and
happens worldwide now.

According to the website,
the Transgender Day of Remembrance serves many purposes. It raises
public awareness of hate crimes against transgendered people,
publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters
who might otherwise be forgotten and reminds non-transgendered
people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and
lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step
forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us
who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.

Violence should not be a way of life for people in our
communities.  According to the National Organization for Women,
statistics regarding the number of transgender individuals killed
annually are nearly impossible to compile because they are based
only on what has been reported. We do not know how many murders go
unreported. These cases rarely receive attention from the
mainstream media. When they do, reporters almost never acknowledge
that the victim was living as a member of another gender, instead
using the pronouns compatible with the person’s sex assignment at
birth. Despite those challenges, the “Remembering Our Dead” web
project has been able to compile rough statistics. The site reports
that between 1970 and October 2004, 234 transgender people were
killed in the U.S. In 2003 alone, 32 transgender murders were
reported worldwide.

The recent ENDA fight was a sad reminder that our law makers
don’t understand the gravity of discrimination trans folks endure
or terrible violence that can happen simply because they are living
their lives authentically.  Stonewall – the kick off to our modern
day LGBT civil rights movement – was initiated by a group of folks
who transgressed gender in a variety of ways.  Wouldn’t it be a
tragedy to continue to turn our back on those who transgress gender
‘norms’ today when we have the opportunity to include and
protect everyone in our community?  Please educate your Senator
about violence against transgender people and let’s all stand
together so we can stop having vigils to remember those lost.