Rita Hester was murdered in Boston in 1998. In 1999, near the anniversary of her slaying, the first Transgender Day of Remembrance was held, organized by Gwen Smith. Every year since, we have been holding another TDOR to remember those who had been murdered in the interim.
Like most murders of transwomen, Rita Hester's murder has yet to be solved.
This is the 13th TDOR.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
Sadly, (pdf) Trans Murder Monitoring reports that 221 transpeople have been murdered in the last 12 months. The murders occurred in 26 countries, by far the most being in Brazil (97). Next highest were Mexico (23), Columbia (19), and Venezuela (14). The United States clocked in with 10. Europe was lead by Turkey (5), while Asia was lead by Pakistan (6) and the Philippines (5).
In 2009 there were 162 reported murders of transpeople. In 2010 the number was 179. The increase may just reflect intensified data exchange.
There was no news media coverage of most of the murders, but we have some knowledge of some of them.
When I began preparing this offering, it was with the knowledge that by the time I finished, there would no doubt be another name to add to the list. I was not mistaken. Cassidy Vickers was murdered in Hollywood, CA on Thursday evening.
Central and South America have accounted for 80% of the 755 reported homicides in 51 countries since January, 2008.
These are only the reported cases, which could be found through internet research. In most countries, data on murdered trans people are not systematically produced and it is impossible to estimate the numbers of unreported cases. Another finding of these updates is that while Brazil has received special attention due to the elevated number of killings, the number of killings in other South and Central American countries like Venezuela, Honduras and in particular Guatemala is equally or even more worrying in view of the much smaller population sizes of these countries.
The actual data is no doubt much higher since, for example, only two murders of transpeople were reported on the entire continent of Africa (one in South Africa and one in Algeria).
Warning: Violence below!!!
Lorenza Alexis Alvarado Hernández, 23, was stoned, beaten, and burned in Comayaguela City, Honduras, on December 22, 2010. Used condoms left near the remains suggest she may also have been raped. After killing her, her assailants threw her body into a ditch.
Lady Oscar Martinez Salgado, 45, was burned to death in her home in Barrio El Rincón, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, also on December 22, 2010. Her body also had multiple stab wounds.
Reana "Cheo" Bustamente died of multiple stab wounds to her chest in Tegulcigalpa on January 2, 2011.
Genesis Briget Makaligton, mid 20s, died of stangulation in Comayaguela City, Honduras on January 7, 2011.
Krissy Bates, 45, was stabbed to death in Minneapolis, MN, on Janauary 10, 2011. Her body had suffered more injury than would have caused death. Krissy had recently moved to Minneapolis from New Orleans.
Fergie Alice Ferg was shot multiple times in the head and chest in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on January 18, 2011.
Tyra Trent, 25, was strangledto death in a vacant, city-owned house in Baltimore on February 19, 2011. She was working on her GED, "she loved people, loved animals, loved to talk to anybody."
Priscila Brandao, 25, was shot in the head on camera in Belo Horizante, Brazil, on March 2, 2011 by three gunman who repeatedly returned to the body to fire another shot or two. In total she was shot seven times. Her death unfortunately generated a tide of homophobic and transphobic hate crimes across Brazil.
Shakira Harahap, 28, was shot to death in an apparent robbery in which two other transwomen were also shot in Taman Lawang, Jakarta, Indonesia on March 10, 2011.
Miss Nate Nate Davis, 44, was shot to death and her body dumped in a trash bin in Houston on June 13, 2011.
Lashai McLean, 23, was shot to death in Washington, DC on July 20, 2011.
Didem (no known last name), 26, had her throat cut by an AWOL soldier in Findikzade, Istanbul, Turkey on July 31, 2011.
Camila Guzman, 38, died of multiple stab wounds to the back and neck in Manhattan, NYC, on August 1, 2011. The New York Post thought the central focus of the story was the new technology used to identify the victim, who the Post identified as a hooker, using her male name. Ms. Guzman was in fact a legal immigrant who worked a pushcart in the city.
Gaby (no known last name) was beaten and burned in Jalisco, Mexico, on August 6, 2011. Gaby worked in HIV prevention.
An unidentified transwoman, age around 30, was stabbed to death in Paris, France on August 24, 2011.
The body of Gaurav Gopalan, 35, of Washinton, DC was found on a Washingotn, DC sidewalk, dead of a brain hemorrhage due to blunt-instrument head trauma on September 10, 2011.
Ramazan Cetin, 24, was shot to death by her brother in an "honor killing" in Gaziantep, Turkey, on October 6, 2011.
Shelley Hilliard (also known as Michelle Moore) was decapitated, dismembered and then burned and dumped on a service road to an interstate highway in Detroit, MI on October 23, 2011.
Jessica Rollon, 32, was strangled to death and her body dumped on the side of a road in Bergamo, Italy on October 30, 2011.
Astrid Carolina Lopez Cruz, 30, was beaten and stabbed to death in Madrid, Spain on November 4, 2011.
Cassidy Vickers, 32, was shot and killed in Hollywood, CA on November 17, 2011.
Not listed are people like Ashraf Hafiz Abdul Aziz, who was denied the legal right to change her name and legal gender by a Malaysian court and a few days later died of heart failure in a Malaysian ICU. The cause of death was thereafter declared to be suicide by drug overdose. One might say Ashraf died of a broken heart.
While it is important to note legal progress when it occurs, we must not forget the danger that transpeople live with every day of our lives, even in places which theoretically have the highest amount of legal protection. Theory only provides protection in theory. In practice someone has to apply the theory.
Changing the legal climate is necessary, but not sufficient to changing the world into a place where we can breathe freely and easily.
The list was updated between the time I prepared this and the publishing of it. The final(?) list is here.
Particularly poignant is this:
Erica Pinheiro de Siqueira, 14, was shot 11 times in Pajucara, Maceio, AL, Brazil on December 25, 2011. I sincerely hope the date was just a mistake and that this wasn't someone sending in the information as a very cruel threat. I have not found any news link.