HRC Blog

HRC Honors Transgender Day of Remembrance

This post submitted by Hyacinth Alvaran, HRC Diversity Program Associate

Today HRC commemorates the 14th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance as a solemn tribute to those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

TDOR is a time to help raise awareness of the constant threat of brutality faced by the transgender community. Through its steering committees, HRC is partnering with local organizations to support remembrance events in 25 cities.

"Today we commemorate our transgender brothers and sisters we’ve lost, and stand in solidarity against hate-based violence," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "Transgender people face violence at unfathomable rates and we must keep all those affected by these crimes in our memory so that we can see an end to this brutality."

Statistics on anti-transgender violence are startling. This year alone, over 60 individuals worldwide have died because of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. Twelve percent of reported hate crimes were against transgender people, according to a 2008 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program (NCAVP).  NCAVP also found in 2011 40 percent of murders against the LGBT community were against transgender women, particularly women of color.  Seventy-eight percent of transgender children in grades K-12 reported being harassed in school, 35 percent physically assaulted and 12 percent sexually assaulted, according to a 2011 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Because of such staggering statistics, HRC continues to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance in its 7th year of participation, and works year-round to mitigate such violence. The landmark passage of the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009 added sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability as protected categories under existing federal hate crimes laws. An important component of this law comes into effect next year, when the FBI will start collecting data on hate crimes based on gender identity. This data can be used to more effectively convey to our policymakers and law enforcement officers the gravity of this problem. Furthermore, the Welcoming Schools program works with teachers and administrators to address bullying and create a safe and welcoming environment for all elementary school students, including transgender and gender non-conforming children.

The first Transgender Day of Remembrance was held to memorialize Rita Hester, whose unsolved murder in 1998 led to the "Remembering Our Dead" web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Since then, the event has expanded to hundreds of cities across the country - and around the world - as an annual memorial for transgender hate crime victims.

For a list of vigils and remembrances worldwide, please visit www.hrc.org/tdor.

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