20th November 2011 is the 13th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is a sobering day on which we remember the hundreds of trans people across the world who have been killed because they were transgender. According to statistics summarized in a 2010 report by the Transgender Europe (TGEU) Trans Murder Monitoring Project, every second day a homicide of a trans person is being reported. According to the same group, 116 transgender people were murdered globally in the first nine months of 2011.

Reports of the deaths are often horrifying. Trans people have been raped, stoned, stabbed, shot, strangled, burned to death, because someone somewhere did not like their gender identity or presentation. More often than not, someone they knew, even a family member.

Many of these people’s murderers are never caught. Sadly, in a lot of cases, not a great deal of effort seems to go into finding the perpetrator, or charging them appropriately. If they are caught, some are proud of their actions, others claim that they have restored family honour, and more again claim a “trans panic” defence. In this, a defendant claims that when discovering that someone was transgender, he or she acted in a state of violent temporary insanity because of a little-known psychiatric condition called “Trans Panic”. Give me a break. Fortunately, this defence is rarely upheld in court, but the fact that it even exists as a defence in the first place sickens me to the core.

You want to know how many trans people have been reported as murdered since 1998 (when records were started by concerned organisations)? Please spare a couple of minutes to look at this list: Remembering Our Dead 1998-2011

Now bear in mind that these are only the murders that have been reported. And that it doesn’t include suicides. Thousands of trans people globally have committed suicide over a similar timescale. Because of fear, harassment and lack of understanding from their families, friends and those they come across day-to-day. Because of rejection, sexual abuse, violence and being made to feel that they are perverted, freakish and crazy.

We need to see an end to the objectification and villification of trans people. We need to see an end to the idea that being transgender is just about your genitalia. We need to see an end to the idea that somehow some trans people deserve to be killed, for crossing whatever social or religious line someone thinks they shouldn’t have. We need to see a radical change in police attitudes towards the deaths that are going on, and the seriousness with which reports of harassment, abuse and threats are treated.

More to the point, people need to realise that it’s not just the murders that are the problem. It’s the trans people who are afraid to leave their homes because of threats of violence. It’s those who lose out on work when people realise they are trans. It’s those who are beaten because they don’t fit in with society’s rules of what it’s ok to look like. It’s people who are rejected by their families for being honest about themselves. The ones who have names shouted at them by people who think that’s ok, because they’re not, somehow, “proper people”.

People like me are being victimised, abused, murdered and left believing that the only way out is suicide, every day. We are just people, like anyone else. The senselessness of these crimes is that a lot of people actually think they’re justified.

For more information about the Transgender Day of Remembrance, please take a look at the TDOR website.

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