By Tuesday G. Meadows
Thursday, Nov. 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The day of remembrance started in 1998 to memorialize the murder of Rita Heister in Allston, Mass., and is now observed in nearly 200 cities and over 20 countries. Despite TDoR being a worldwide day of remembrance, many in Lexington have not heard of the high occurrence of violence toward transgender people.
The Transgender Violence Tracking Portal (www.transviolencetracker.org) tracks reports of violence from around the world. A disproportionate number of them are against people of color. Some have been reported as close as Atlanta and Toledo, with murders reported in Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Nashville police are investigating the recent murder of Gizzy Fowler, a transgender woman of color.
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The recently opened Tracking Portal has logged reports — from November 19, 2013 to November 17, 2014 — of 242 murders of transgender people worldwide. For the same period in the U.S. there were 12 reported murders of trans people. The Human Rights Campaign says, "trans people face a disproportionate amount of violence and hate, even when compared to the other non- trans LGBTQ people."
Transgender people have much higher rates of unemployment and homelessness than the general population. Some find themselves out of work when they transition on the job because of pressure from co workers or bosses who say they have "become a distraction" in the workplace. Some find themselves homeless at a very young age when their families disown them for transitioning. In schools, transgender people often find themselves struggling against bigoted students as well as parents and administrators, causing them to drop out.
Trans misogyny and objectifying transgender people seem to be at the root of much of the violence.
For instance, when Katie Couric asked actress and advocate Laverne Cox about her genitalia, Cox replied, "preoccupation with transition surgery objectifies trans people. ... The reality of trans people's lives is that so often we're the targets of violence."
Many media outlets still insist on using the term "born a man," referring to trans women; Fox News told viewers not to be "deceived" by one trans woman.
We can take a stand against this violence through education and a statewide fairness law. Education can help share the stories and experiences of trans people. Supporting fairness in housing, the workplace, the legal system, schools and health care would be a big first step toward helping with the underlying causes of the high rate of unemployment and homelessness of trans people. Getting people off the street will help reduce situations that put many in harm's way.
The goal of this Transgender Day of Remembrance is to raise awareness and empathy for the struggle for transgender safety and equality.