NCTE Statement on the 20th Transgender Day of Remembrance
Across the world, transgender people and our allies are commemorating the members of our community lost to violence on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Held every year on November 20, this year marks the 20th observation of this important tradition first started after the murder of the 1998 Rita Hester in Boston, Massachusetts.
Violence against the transgender community is widespread—according to the 2015 US Transgender Survey, 13 percent of transgender adults had been violently assaulted in the prior year. This violence disproportionately affects people of color—Black transgender women in particular. Of the 26 known transgender and gender non-conforming people killed since the last Transgender Day of Remembrance, 17 were Black transgender women. But due to failures in reporting by police and the media, any count of transgender lives lost is likely to be an undercount.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, gave the following statement:
“Every year we are asked by friends and allies what they can do—what anyone can do—to prevent these tragedies. Laws that protect the rights of transgender people are a start. But each of these 26 beautiful lives also deserved a community they could trust, and a society in which they could safely be themselves. But it’s understandable that people who are isolated from and alienated by their communities will not trust that community. People who are routinely abused by the police, as so many transgender people of color are, will not trust the police. People who are disregarded, invalidated, and erased by their government will not trust their government.
“This failure to protect and serve some of the most vulnerable people in our country today encourages this violence. It provokes this violence. It renders too many transgender people of color invisible, their lives and struggles only noticed once their blood has spilled. Today, as we remember those lost to hate and prejudice, we must recommit ourselves to real, lasting, and life-saving change.
“So welcome transgender people into your community. If you are hiring, hire transgender people. If you are a parent or a teacher, push for policies that keep transgender youth in school. And if you work in law enforcement, fight for training, fight for sound policies, and fight to give meaning to the oath you swore to protect and serve. None of us can ignore prejudice and hate without promoting prejudice and hate, therefore it is incumbent on all of us to fight for a better today. We must fight like the lives of transgender people depend on it because the lives of transgender people do depend on it.”