Transgender Day of Remembrance

The 16th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is celebrated today and on November 20 each year in tribute to those transgender men and women who have lost their lives to hate crimes or suffered from prejudice. TDoR began in San Francisco and is now held worldwide, bringing greater visibility to the transgender community and highlighting the hatred and ignorance transgender people face daily.

Violence against transgender people is increasing worldwide. A project monitoring transgender violence – Transrespect  versus Transphobia Worldwide (TvT) – has documented 1,374 reported killings of trans people in 60 countries over the past six years (January 2008 through October 2013). Two hundred thirty-eight (238) transgender murders were reported in the past year alone (November 20th 2012 to October 31st 2013).

In the Asia Pacific region, 121 murders of transgender persons have been reported by the TvT project. The highest number of cases was reported in India (30 murders), followed by Philippines (29 murders) and Pakistan (20 murders).  Perpetrators of violence toward genders often benefit from a culture of impunity, sometimes government-backed. Transgender murders may occur without documentation or with no proper monitoring system. It is difficult to estimate the actual numbers of cases of trans-violence.

Only last month, Jennifer Laude, a transgender Filipino woman, was found strangled and drowned in the hotel bathroom after spending the evening with U.S marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. The Philippine court has charged Pemberton with her murder, but he did not appear in court despite a subpoena.

“The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which the two countries signed in 1998, allows the US military to act in wanton disregard for the Philippine sovereignty… and violates the human rights and dignity of the Filipino people,” said Congressman Walden Bello of Akbayan Party, an ally of the president, according to Reuters. Laude’s murder and the protection given to Pemberton during this period have been met with outrage in the Philippines.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance aims to build awareness and understanding of transgender people and begin to re-establish a climate of acceptance and support for all transgender men and women, especially those who have suffered in the present climate of discrimination and violence.