Today Is the Trans Day of Remembrance, and 311 Trans People Were Murdered This Year

While people around the world observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) on Wednesday, a new report from Transrespect Versus Transphobia Worldwide says 331 trans and gender-diverse people were murdered worldwide between October 2018 and September 2019. Brazil had the highest number of these hate crimes with 130 killings reported. Mexico had 63 and the U.S. reported 30.

In addition, 3,317 trans and gender-diverse people have been murdered globally since January 2008.

"Stigma and discrimination against trans and gender-diverse people is real and profound around the world, and are part of a structural and ongoing circle of oppression that keeps us deprived of our basic rights," the report said. "Trans and gender-diverse people are victims of horrifying hate violence, including extortion, physical and sexual assaults, and murder. In most countries, data on murdered trans and gender-diverse people are not systematically produced and it is impossible to estimate the actual number of cases."

Some of these murders go unreported because victims are misgendered by members of the media. Families of victims sometimes refuse to acknowledge someone's trans status and give incorrect information to authorities.

Out of the victims with known occupations, 61 percent were sex workers. In the U.S., 85 percent were Native American trans women or trans women of color.

transgender day of remembrance
Rights activists and transgender people participate in a candlelight vigil in Bangalore on November 20, 2018 as part of International Transgender Day of Remembrance held in memory of those who have died as a result of transphobia. Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty

"Transgender women of color are living in crisis, especially Black transgender women," said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Alphonso David. "Every one of these lives cut tragically short reinforces the urgent need for action on all fronts to end this epidemic—from lawmakers and law enforcement, to the media and our communities."

Information from the HRC says that 91 percent of the trans women killed in the U.S. throughout 2019 were black. Over 80 percent of the victims were under the age of 30. Out of all the murders reported, 68 percent of the victims lived in the American south.

Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation says 1,445 people were the victims of hate crimes in which sexual orientation was the motivation. While not all of these crimes were murders, physical attacks on transgender people shot up by 34 percent.

Transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith started TDoR in 1999 to memorialize Rita Hester, a transgender woman stabbed to death in Massachusetts in 1998. Hester's murder remains unsolved.

"Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence," said Smith. "I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people—sometimes in the most brutal ways possible—it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice."