By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/ TRT Columnist—
This November 20th will be the 20th Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). The TDoR was started by Gwen Smith in 1999 to memorialize the brutal death of trans woman Rita Hester who was murdered in Allston, Mass. It continues yearly, every November 20th, to memorialize the trans folk who have died in the past year. It’s a very sad but necessary occasion, as we need to inform the public just how many trans people are brutally murdered every year.
I’ve been involved in TDoRs since the mid-2000s and the number of trans related deaths has risen every year. This could be due in part because the reporting of the deaths is getting more accurate, or maybe it’s because the violence against trans people has risen. I admit it could be both as well. The bottom line is that these deaths need to stop.
As of this writing, there have been 352 reports of trans people’s deaths around the world, 38 of which have been reported in the United States. By using this site, I found the causes of death in the past year have been by suicides, shootings, beatings, stabbings, strangulations, burnings, beheadings, tortures, stonings, suffocations, asphyxiations, dismemberings, throat cuttings, and deaths by clinical malpractices, fatal injections of industrial silicone, dying in custody, and a few methods not reported. If you visit the above-mentioned site, you can see for yourself how horrible the deaths were.
How can the terrible murders of transgender people be stopped? I can’t say for sure, but I believe that educating the public is a good start. The more people who hear or read about these awful situations, the better it would be in getting the word out about these brutal killings of trans people. We need to get the stories of these murder stories out to the public and the public needs to understand the situation. It would help immensely if the federal government and mainstream media would recognize the TDoR, which would nationally legitimize and bring the urgency of this situation to the front where it should be. The murders must stop. The notion that trans people are expendable must stop. The notion that trans people aren’t real must stop. We, as trans people, need to be seen as human beings so that we can live our lives without fear of being murdered, without fear of being ridiculed, without fear of being not accepted, and without fear of being left out of society.
My Springfield, Mass. transgender support group, UniTy of the Pioneer Valley, lost three members this year. One was stabbed and beaten and two were suicides. TDoRs are tough enough every year to bear but to have three friends die in one year because of the way society treats them can be overwhelming. The deaths of Christa, Chloe, and Kim greatly shook up the western Mass. and surrounding areas. When the deaths hit home it really hurts. I don’t want any more of my friends dying because they are transgender people. I don’t want any more transgender people dying because they are transgender people. We need these murders to stop.
I am asking, no, I am imploring everyone to seek out the local Transgender Day of Remembrance in their area and attend it. Find out for yourselves the extent of these horrible and unjust murders of transgender people. The more people who attend these TDoRs, the better it will be. We need to get the word out. We need to stop these murders.
For those in the Springfield area, UniTy will be holding a TDoR on Thursday, November 15 at 3300 Main Street, Springfield. We begin at 6 p.m. with a hot meal. From 7-9 will be the TDoR with guest speaker Elijah C. Nealy Ph.D. Please come.
* Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has 3 children and two grandchildren. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[This column was originally published on the Nov. 8, 2018 issue of The Rainbow Times.]