Today marks the 9th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. The event was founded to honor Rita Hester, whose 1998 murder led to a candlelight vigil in San Francisco, CA, as well as the beginning of the Remembering Our Dead web project, which memorializes those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.
The goals of the Day of Remembrance are to both raise public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people and to publicly mourn and honor the lives of those killed. According to the event website, more than one person per month has died over the past decade due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. The murder [of] Rita Haster, which led to the creation of Transgender Day of Remembrance, remains unsolved.
Much of the violence that is directed at trans people is predicated on the myth of deception. For example, straight men who become attracted to trans women sometimes erupt into homophobic/transphobic rage and violence upon discovering that the woman in question was born male. Perhaps the most well known of such cases is that of Gwen Araujo, who was bludgeoned to death by a four men, two of whom she had been sexually intimate with. Despite the fact that the men plotted her murder a week in advance, defense lawyers insisted that the murder was merely manslaughter because the defendants were victims of Gwen’s “sexual deceit.”
Few attempts to blame the victim are more blatant than when trans people are accused of “sexual deceit” or “sexual assault” simply because other people have chosen to express their attraction toward us. In reality, it is they who are guilty of cissexual/cisgender assumption (when one presumes that every person they meet is nontrans by default). Trans people simply exist, we are everywhere, and the rest of the world has to start recognizing and accepting that.
Also see Julia Serano again and Transgender Day of Remembrance Comics Project. Make sure to also check out quench zine (h/t Jessica Valenti) and to visit the Transgender Day of Remembrance website. And, of course, never forget, 24/7/365.