Matt Kailey is a transman living in Denver, Colorado, and an author, public speaker, and trainer on transgender issues. He blogs at Tranifesto. In his ideal world, no one would be equal to anyone else – everyone would just be equal.
International Transgender Day of Remembrance is set aside every November 20 to remember those people who have been killed or have died due to transphobia or anti-trans hatred and prejudice.
In the twelve years since Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded the Remembering Our Dead website and the Day of Remembrance vigils, over 400 people that we know of have been murdered worldwide as a result of anti-trans hate or prejudice, according to statistics posted on the International Transgender Day of Remembrance website. Others have died due to medical neglect or suicide. There are many, many more deaths that have not been documented. (link to International Transgender Day of Remembrance website: www.transgenderdor.org)
As we continue to read about, hear about, witness, or even suffer from the brutality wrought by transphobia, I think we also need to acknowledge the other communities that it affects, because this is not just a “trans problem.” A majority of trans people murdered every year in North America are trans women of color. The victims are often subjected to homophobic slurs during the attack.
And many of these murders are not “simple” killings - they are violent, brutal, horrendous attacks, meant not just to kill, but to destroy, wipe out, eliminate, exterminate.
The attacks on these women often continue long after the victim is dead, sometimes involving disfigurement and/or dismemberment of the body.
What these women had to endure during their attack is unthinkable. What their family members and friends have to live with afterward, knowing what their loved one suffered through, is heartbreaking.
The transphobia inherent in these attacks is obvious. And the damage that is done extends far beyond the victim and her immediate family and friends, as trans people everywhere suffer the psychological damage of living in fear as they wonder if they are next.
But the racism, misogyny, and homophobia reflected in these deaths cannot go unacknowledged. All these factors come together to make these crimes particularly horrendous and hate-filled - which is why all of our communities must come together to put a stop to this violence and all violence against marginalized people.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is not just a day for trans people to honor and remember their dead. It is a day for all marginalized communities subjected to hatred and brutality because of who they are to come together and say, “No more.”
And it is also a day to celebrate life, to make a commitment to honor and respect each other, and to recognize that no marginalized community exists in a vacuum. Our connections are numerous and far-reaching.
We are all in this together, and together we must somehow prevail.