White House, John Berry Observe Trans Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2012

Today marks the 14th observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance, an international day of remembrance of the people lost to anti-transgender fear, discrimination, and violence. National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling said:

“Today, NCTE is in solemn vigil for the transgender people we’ve lost to senseless anti-transgender violence. Transgender Day of Remembrance is a chilling reminder that the work we all do too often comes too late for many in our community. So, today, we reflect on the people we’ve lost. And tomorrow, we renew our commitment to ending the discrimination and violence that keeps many more of us imprisoned with fear.”

As part of Transgender Day of Remembrance, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling and NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin, along with two dozen other transgender advocates, joined the White House to discuss policies that make transgender lives safer. John Berry, Director of the Office of Personnel Management, led the group in a moment of silence to honor transgender victims of violence.

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Remembering Our Dead

November 20, 2011

Unquestionably, the most solemn day for transgender people in the U.S. is the Transgender Day of Remembrance which is commemorated every November 20, throughout the United State and worldwide. On this day, we memorialize the many transgender people who have lost their lives to hate-based violence. It has been estimated that one trans person per month on average is killed in the United States in a hate crime murder just for being transgender.

Most people I suppose have no idea that transgender people in the United States face obscenely elevated levels of violence compared to non-transgender Americans. The epidemic of school bullying against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students has received much needed attention lately. That’s great and helping our children should be a priority. But we also face higher rates of sexual assaults, domestic violence, assault by police and hate violence—attacks and frequently murder just because of who we are.

The recent National Transgender Discrimination Survey showed that 26 percent of trans people in our sample had faced physical attack at some point for being transgender and ten percent experienced sexual assault. In Washington, DC alone there have been 25 anti-transgender attacks, including two murders, reported to the police just since July, according to the DC Trans Coalition.

All this violence is a well-known, deeply felt and, too often, personally experienced reality for the transgender people in your life—your trans children, coworkers and neighbors.

Violence against trans people is such a public health and safety issue that it is finally getting attention from the federal government. This Wednesday, with a small group of transgender and LGBT anti-violence advocates, we briefed White House officials on strategies for addressing the problem.

Fortunately, there is much the federal government can do: count transgender people in crime and health surveys, implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act recommendations (making sure they apply to immigration detention as well), insure that federal anti-violence programs take transgender people into account, and consider trans people when addressing problems of violence against women, youth, people of color, homeless people and immigrants. We provided the administration with over twenty common sense policies we desperately need to have implemented.

This week too, NCTE released a model school district policy with our partners at the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to help schools better incorporate the increasing number of transgender students coming out in America’s schools. As a first-of-its-kind resource, we hope to better prepare schools to support trans students, end bullying and establish procedures that allow young trans people to grow up as safe, whole people..

Trans people have far too many murder victims to commemorate on this Day of Remembrance. There is some solace and hope to be had in seeing that every year, more and more good people who are not transgender are taking note of this crisis, attending Day of Remembrance events and pitching in to help end it.

The Day of Remembrance

November 19, 2010

The Transgender Day of Remembrance, which falls on Saturday this year, is a time to honor the transgender people who have fallen to violence in the last twelve months. Each name, each face represents a precious life that ended because of another person’s consuming hatred and fear.  It is, quite simply, a terrible tragedy.

Last night at NCTE’s anniversary celebration, Ruby Corado from the DC Trans Coalition spoke so powerfully about the shift that our community has made from picking up the bodies of victims to the conviction that we can and must fix the problems that leave bodies behind. She talked about the work that is needed to heal and to help those who have been survivors of violence but also the ways in which we are called to change policies and attitudes to make things better.

She is absolutely right. We must extend our deepest compassion and care to those who continue to face violence and discrimination because of their gender identity or expression. At the same time, we must be passionately committed to rooting out the causes of that violence and creating a safer world for all of us.

Transgender people can face violence in every aspect of our lives—in doctors’ offices, in schools, at home, and in the streets. This is absolutely unacceptable—there is simply no other way to put it. But hope is seen in the reactions of people when we talk about this. Two of our staff members conducted trainings this week, one for public health officials and one for educators; in both cases, people were shocked that their peers were engaging in violence and harassment. And sometimes all it takes to interrupt an act of violence or discrimination is one person who is aware that it wrong and has the courage to stand up to injustice and abuse. We hope that we planted seeds this week that will cause others to take action when the rights of transgender people are violated.

There is, of course, no one solution to the problem of violence against transgender people. We need to work to create hope. We need to work to create a society in nwhich transgender people can get and keep jobs. And we need the protections of federal laws—available to us for the first time this year in the Matthew Shephard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act—that will instigate both law enforcement action and study to address the issue of hate motivated violence. We must continue to educate our families, our friends, and the public about the realities of transgender lives, to broaden their understanding of who we are.

We must continue to work to create supportive environments—at work, at home, at school—where we are safe from hateful words and violence.  And we must continue to expand and to grow those places.

As we approach the Day of Remembrance, let us take a moment now to reflect on the tragic loss of real people, on the ways in which we can reach out to those who have survived violence—both those who have been targeted or the families and loved ones of those murdered—and on the ways in which we can take action to end it. Things must change … and together, we are the agents of that change.

We Remember: The 2009 Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2009

On this, the eleventh annual Day of Remembrance, we are part of a global movement to honor those who have died. We mourn our fallen sisters and brothers who have become the victims of hatred and prejudice and we commit ourselves to doing what it takes to prevent others from joining their ranks.

Read NCTE’s statement on the Day of Remembrance 2009.