Every year on the 13th of November Transgender Awareness Week begins, a week long celebration and chance to educate people about the transgender community. But the final day of this week is a solemn occasion for on November 20th we observe Transgender Day of Remembrance to honour those that fell to transphobic based violence.
This day came into the history books in 1999, but trans based violence has a much deeper history that is often overlooked by the general public because the information isn’t talked about or taught.
One particular act of violence that has rippled through time and affected the world’s chance to learn more about the trans community was the loss of the research of Dr Magnus Hirschfield. Dr Hirschfield, a gay Jewish German, was an advocate for sexual minorities and founded the world league for sexual reform. He is credited with performing some of the earliest SRS surgeries (Sex Reassignment Surgeries).
In 1933 Dr Hirschfields Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, an early private serology institute, was targeted by Nazis and his research was lost in book burnings as part of Nazi censorship. The loss of this research affected the trans community for years to come, one of our biggest advocates had been silenced and sadly passed in 1935 after being exiled. The Nazi regime can also be held accountable for the direct deaths of many gender diverse individuals who wore the pink triangle in their camps.
From there the attitude of violence towards trans gender peoples grew and spread internationally as more people started to express dysphoria. People were being beaten or killed with very little said because they laid on the fringes of society, a particular community that experienced this on masse was the trans sex workers of the time.
Trans people have historically had trouble finding employment so many turned to sex work to support themselves, or to feel valid in their identity.
A lot of this violence was squared against trans people of colour, the attitudes of the time being unaccepting of who they were as a whole. Unfortunately the police forces of the time were guilty of indulging in this violence, events such as these led to the now famous Stonewall riots that highlighted the violence levelled at members of the LGBTQIA community in New York.
A lot of the Trans women involved in these important protests were pushed out of the narrative to highlight gay rights over other communities under the banner.
One such Woman was Martha P. Johnson, it was said the P stood for pay it no mind so the history books did exactly that for a long time as trans rights fell into the background in the face of other marginalised communities.
Today a Statue of Martha stands in New York City.
Now as we move forward to the modern day understanding and acceptance has gathered around the trans community, but transphobic violence has been on the rise in certain countries despite the culture of acceptance the world puts forward. A mask to hide the ugly truth of unnecessary murders and people pushed to commit suicide. A commonly used statement by the transphobic community is to refer to trans people as a percentage, indicating they’ll be part of the percentage of trans persons that commit suicide.
This inciting of lost trans lives is violence in of itself, but these people quire often go on to harm the community in other larger ways.
2020 marked one of the worst years for anti trans violence, the US alone recorded 45 murders within the transgender community and was the worst year on record for their country. In total it is believed upwards of 350 people worldwide were killed on the basis of gender identity in 2020, and 2021 has not been much kinder.
In a world that’s supposedly more accepting people are hearing trans voices less because they don’t want to believe this violence is continuing and we’re all together now. But we are a long way from together
Very recently the BBC posted an article suggesting women were being forced to sleep with Trans Women, the information in the article was mostly unfounded and lacking evidence. It was in this article Lesbian porn star Lily Cade called publicly for the lynching of trans women, this wasn’t a small publication stirring hate it was a large news vendor condoning violence incitement.
Many news vendors are picking up on stories about trans people as a hot button issue not to help spread awareness, articles on pregnant males and non female period’s have especially seen volatile commentary happy to bring about violence on the trans community.
If you were to go on social media right now and find an article on trans people (it’s really not hard either as I said hot button) you will find the comments littered with people saying everything they can to negate trans identities which leads to further acts of violence from those who feel validated by others joint hatred.
The world is better than it was, but when we ignore the shadows of hate we allow them to grow. As a community trans people need to stand together and those that stand with us need to raise their voices. What’s happening is not ok and we can be the first step to ending the unnecessary deaths and violence.
So this November 20th I will be lighting my candle for
Mel Robert Groves
Royal Poetical Starz
Kiér Laprí Kartier
Brianna Ulmer/Brianna Hamilton
Claire Monserrat Jackson
Pooh Johnson (“Titanizer Mua”)
CoCo Chanel Wortham
The spirits of the unrecorded Trans Australians (do better Australia)
And so many more of my brothers and sisters lost this year