Making Meaning of Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 18, 2010

By NCLR Policy Assistant Jaan Williams

It was 2004, and I had volunteered for my school’s Queer Straight Alliance to type the individual names of transgender women and men who had been murdered on cards for Transgender Day of Remembrance.

I sat in the computer lab at school, silently typing the name of each person, where they died, details of their murders, and learning with each key stroke about the violence that claimed their lives and how unsafe it is for trans people to simply exist.

The following summer, I realized, I too was transgender, setting off a stream of emotions that were far from the joy and relief I should have experienced in finally understanding who I was. Instead, at that moment, I flashed back to the names of the women and men I had silently typed the year before, recalling the ways they had been killed. In that moment, all I understood was fear. I shook with sobs, tears rolling down my face, as I thought about what my life could be as a trans man.

It’s been five years since I began to transition. I pass now, and look male enough that most people don’t notice me on the street. But I still fear for myself, my friends, and countless others. And I can’t ever shake the feelings that I had when I first realized I was trans, or stop thinking about the countless women and men who lost their lives simply for being who they were.

According to a 2009 study conducted by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), 40 percent of hate murders committed against members of the LGBT community were against trans women of color. I cannot be content with the relative safety that I am afforded while knowing that trans women of color in my community are at such high risk of being targeted for violence.

Transgender Day of Remembrance, set for Saturday, November 20, is a day of remembering, of bearing witness, of not forgetting the names of the women and men who died, of demanding an end to the violence. This Saturday, I’ll remember Tyli’a “NaNa Boo” Mack, a trans person murdered in Washington D.C. after I moved here in 2009, and the first for whom I attended a memorial service.

If hate violence stems from a belief that some lives don’t matter, remembering those lives proves unequivocally that they do. We remember them because they were—and are—a part of us and our community, and because their lives run parallel to our own.

Someday, I hope that there will no more names to add to the list of women and men who we’ll remember on Saturday. But until that day, I’ll work to end the violence against our community.


Gov. Carcieri Vetoes Bill to Expand Rhode Island Hate Crimes Law

June 30, 2010

by Joe Siegel | EDGE Boston

Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri vetoed a bill on Wednesday, June 23, that would have expanded the state’s definition of a hate crime.

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Puerto Rico Panel to Investigate Hate Crimes

June 14, 2010

from the Associated Press

A special committee to investigate hate crimes has been created in Puerto Rico, where advocates say gay and transgender people are the victims of an “epidemic” of violence.

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Hate-Crimes Exclusion Bill Killed in House Committee

April 6, 2010

Rep. Mike Shelton

by Barbara Hoberock | Tulsa World

A controversial hate-crimes bill did not get a hearing Monday in a House committee.

Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, became the House author of Senate Bill 1965, by Sen. Steven Russell, R-Oklahoma City. Shelton said he took control of the bill to kill it and asked that the bill not get heard in the House Judiciary Committee.

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The State of Transgender Hate Crimes in D.C.

March 23, 2010

by Amanda Hess | Washington City Paper

Last month, D.C. police released a report breaking down every hate crime reported in D.C. [PDF] over the past five years. In 2007, changes to the D.C. Human Rights Act required police to begin recording hate-bias crimes motivated by the victim’s “gender identity or expression”—in other words, crimes that specifically target transgender victims. Since then, crimes against the transgender community have been the second most frequently recorded type of hate crime committed in D.C., after sexual orientation.

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Oklahoma Senate Passes Amendment to Opt Out of Federal Hate Crimes Protections

March 11, 2010

by John Wright | Dallas Voice

Just up the road in Oklahoma, the state Senate yesterday approved an amendment that’s apparently designed to opt out of federal hate crimes protections for LGBT people:

In an amendment presented on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, gutted a bill that had been filed to create a task force to study the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, and inserted language to make changes to the state’s hate crime statutes.

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More Anti-Gay, Religious-Motivated Crimes Reported

November 23, 2009

by Devlin Barrett | Associated Press

Reports of hate crimes against gays and religious groups increased sharply in 2008, according to new FBI data released Monday.

Overall, the number of reported hate crimes increased about 2 percent. These same figures show a nearly 11 percent increase in hate crimes based on sexual orientation, and a nearly 9 percent increase in hate crimes based on religion.

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