Reflections on Transgender Day of Remembrance

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

"It numbs me to acknowledge that we have been repeatedly erased from the consciousness of life.
of the millions of lives that were silenced and made invisible.
the wound is deep and seething. It’s time to remember."
— Satya Rai Nagpaul, Sampoorna for Trans* Indians by Trans* Indians across the globe


Many heroes fall during battle and this fight to end exclusion and encourage the embracing of diversity often costs our comrades lives, those who put themselves in the front line and also those who simply just lived their lives but have been raped and murdered for being “different.”
But they are not forgotten, we honor those souls that slip away 
And know that they are angels on this day. The memory of them lives on 
As we sleep we see their face and we often imagine their warm embrace
So as long as we are alive, we will hold them in our hearts and as long as we can breathe our heroes will never be apart.
So as we bury you with honor we will grieve, then heal & pray and even though we'll miss you we'll be reunited one day and we will continue the struggle!
— Trans Bantu Zambia


Every year we are saddened by the loss of many trans people as a result of murders all around the world. Transgender Europe's Trans Murder Monitoring Project reveals 238 reported killings of trans people while many other killings go unreported. We as trans people experience widespread discrimination, violence and marginalization, while our means to combat these problems often remain insufficient.
Being a trans sex worker in Turkey, I and my colleagues are pushed to insecure environments to work and are systematically targeted by state authorities which result in further victimization. We as trans people, including those who are the most marginalized—sex workers, people who live with HIV, migrants, people who live with disability, those who are in poverty…we demand our human rights. While commemorating our trans friends, partners, colleagues, etc. we call on governments to take all required steps to protect trans people from violence and to promote our human rights.”
— Kemal Ordek, Chair, Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association and Co-chair, Transgender Europe


“Across the Asia Pacific region, there are gaps in knowledge, research, services, and resources for transmen, trans masculine, pengkid, toms, wariawan, mitini, seku mai, nachchi, FtM, FtX, trans, butch.  In most countries they are missing from the lexicon. Invisibility of transmen hides the reasons for the hostility, violence and discrimination that transmen face in their families, neighborhoods, workplace, and by state institutions. Invisibility deprives them of access to justice, redress, and support. Invisibility denies transmen’s presence as human rights defenders, community activists, parents, partners, workers, and victims of hate crimes.”
— Grace Poore, IGLHRC Regional Program Coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands


“Invisibility and the denial of the existence of trans* men and trans* masculine people is another form of violence—and has devastating impacts on our physical and mental health. The majority of trans* boys and men in this region still question their gender identity alone, with no knowledge they have a community or a history, and no words to describe who they are. Transgender Day of Remembrance is about remembering those who have gone before us, naming who we are, and creating our own future.”
— Jack Byrne, trans activist, Aotearoa / New Zealand


“The Transgender Day of Remembrance is an important day for everyone, not just to the trans* communities all around the world. It reminds us that not all forms of diversity are acceptable, and it is punishable through inhumane overt and covert acts of violence and discrimination.”
— Dorian, ToM (Transmen of Malaysia)


“On Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember there are not only two sexes. I hope everyone can enjoy their living an open and honest life.  Be the change today!”
— Connie Chan Man Wai, trans activist, Hong Kong SAR


“While we mourn our sisters and brothers who have passed, it is equally important to celebrate and acknowledge the lives of those who are still with us.”
— Nisha Ayub, PT Foundation Malaysia


“The Trans Murder Monitoring Project reports that between 2012 and 2013 there were 95 murders of trans people in Brazil, 40 in Mexico, 16 in the United States, 15 in Venezuela, and 12 each in Colombia and Honduras. These results are terrifying, and, it seems, would indicate that Brazil and Mexico are the two countries with the most transphobic violence in the region.
But it is important to remember that transphobic violence is triggered by prejudice. Ninety-five murders in Brazil, a country of nearly 200 million, compared with 12 murders in Honduras, a country of nearly 8 million indicates that, overall, there’s likely more social prejudice in Honduras than in Brazil.
In many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, transphobia is not seen or recognized as prejudice. When States do not pay attention to violence against transgender people, either by omission or negligence, they enable prejudice. They reinforce the mockery, discrimination, sexual exploitation and violence that trans people are faced with as an acceptable and logical response to transgender people, and all those who are perceived to be ‘other.’
Violence begins with prejudice. Violence is sustained through prejudice. And violence is further perpetuated through the prejudice that creates impunity around transphobic crimes.”
— María Mercedes Gómez, IGLHRC Regional Program Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean


“We pay tribute to Naomi, Zimbabwe’s very own trans woman who championed the struggle for LGBTI rights in so many ways. She came out at a time when there was very little to no information on transgender. Born 4th in a family of 8, Naomi a very active member of GALZ, Naomi never shied away from controversy. In her hometown of Mabvuku, a township about 25km outside Harare, most people considered Naomi’s behavior feminine.
She fought for inclusion and acceptance within the GALZ women’s programme because of her identity, sadly we all didn’t know! She was never included in these activities. She was a victim of violence in public spaces owing to her gender identity. She attempted suicide three times in her life, following a period in which society shunned her.” Continue reading GALZ’ tribute to Naomi, on their website »
— Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)


“In South Africa and other parts of the African continent, our sisters die in large numbers as a result of the HIV burden. This will not change until we are recognised first, epidemiological counts of HIV among trans women are conducted, and effective evidence-based programming developed, that takes into account our unique needs as trans women, and far removed from the MSM (men having sex with men) response. The conflation of trans women with MSM statistics is fundamentally flawed and poses a threat to the health and well-being needs of transgender women”
Leigh Ann van der Merwe, S.H.E.