November is a month of commemoration, most famously Armistice Day in Europe and Veteran’s Day in the North America. Another event that marks the tragic loss of many lives is the International Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20th November.
It began with the tragic murder of a transwoman in Allston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 28th November 1998.
Rita Hester, 35, an intelligent, gregarious, glamorous, statuesque African American transgender woman that was well known and much loved on both Boston’s transgender and rock and roll scenes, and regularly worked as a singer in local venues and bars.
Hester was stabbed 20 times in the chest, at her home. No valuables or personal affects were missing from her apartment, nor were there any signs of forced entry into the property.
The investigation into her murder is still unsolved and ongoing.
The week after Rita’s murder, the grief within the local community was so strong that over 200 people attended a vigil.
The following year, on November 20th, the first Transgender Day of Remembrance took place. It happened not just because of the senseless and untimely murder of Hester, but also because its organisers realised that Rita was one of many transgender individuals who were murdered in that past year.
Over the next 15 years, the event has grown on a global scale and to encompass anyone who is suspected to have committed suicide as a result of the heinous actions of transphobic individuals, as well as murder victims.
In 61 sountries, since 2008, there have been over 1,509 transgender and gender variant recorded as being murdered.
Of those 1,200 were killed in South and Central America alone.
Between 1st January and 30th April this year, 102 people were murdered often in gruesome circumstances,
But here is the terrifying crux of the matter, there are currently 196 nations in the world, so that means that there are no official statistics for transgender and gender variant murders and suicides – at all – in 131 countries, and the nations that do officially record these deaths, rarely keep a remotely accurate account of the actual death toll.
Which begs the very fatalistic question: Exactly how many of these tragic deaths go unreported world wide?
That question does have an answer that is frighteningly simple: No-one knows.
For me Transgender Day of Remembrance is a very poignant time, even though I have not known anyone who has been murdered or committed suicide because of the fact that they are trans or variant in gender.
Some people, even a few within the LGBTQIA community, dismiss the event, and I really do not understand why.
Unlike the commemorations for deceased soldiers killed in combat, for which there are usually highly accurate records of, and for which world leaders proudly state in the lead-up to every 11th November, particularly this year, with the 100 anniversary of the First World War beginning.
Unlike Armistice Day, we do not have a single unknown solider to remember.
Instead, we most likely have untold thousands of unknown citizens to commemorate.
Our only fight is to live in peace without harming anyone.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is about our community forming a stronger kinship, while putting pressure on those who record the deaths of those of us who have been taken, to do a far better, more accurate job of reporting the horrifying death toll, so we can force our civic leaders and politicians to improve the personal safety and human rights of every transperson, in the hope that none of us will be in next year’s annual roll-call of the deceased.