Ceremonies mark Transgender Remembrance Day

November 25, 2011

The Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony, held annually on 20 November, was started in 1999 in response to the brutal murder of North American, Rita Hester.

It is a day marked by solemn ceremonies in cities around the world that record the sex and gender diverse who have fallen, and the government inaction that foments such hate crimes.

The Transrespect versus Transphobia project recorded 200 international transphobic murders this year. Transgender activist Natacha Kennedy wrote on Guardian.co.uk on November 20: “These are widely thought to be the tip of the iceberg: there are still large parts of the world where little or no data is available, and this number also does not include those driven to take their own lives.”

The country where trans people are most likely to be murdered “is Honduras: between 28 November 2010 and 9 January 2011, trans people were being slaughtered there at the rate of one a week, in a country with a population smaller than London”.

A US-backed military dictatorship was installed in Honduras in June 2009.

In Australia, on November 18 and November 20, commemorative events were held in Sydney. In Melbourne, an event was also held on November 20.

In Sydney on November 18, the Gender Centre held an event in NSW parliament.

Katherine Cummings from the Gender Centre said: “Forty people gathered to hear from speaker Chief Superintendent Donna Adney; Roberta Perkins, founder of the Gender Centre; Donna Macklin, transgender woman assaulted in her wheelchair in Albury-Wodonga; Greens Senator MP Lee Rhiannon; and public servant Julia Dorman who talked about discrimination in her workplace while transitioning.”

On November 20, braving the rain, 40 sex and gender diverse people held vigil at Taylor Square. The vigil was organised by Jaimie Lee and Still Fierce.

Lee told Green Left Weekly: “We need to commemorate something on November 20 — I would hate to think that the ladies and boys be forgotten. Throughout the years, I have lost a lot of my girlfriends. They should not be forgotten. And so this day is about remembering them.”

Jade Wren from Still Fierce said: “This day brings visibility to the plight of the most economically and sociologically marginalised — sex and gender diverse people.”

In Victoria, trans youth group Ygender organised the commemoration. Ygender spokesperson Sim Kennedy said: “Older community members reflected that it was the largest Trans Remembrance Day event held in Victoria …

“We had the president of Seahorse, a Victorian support and social group for cross-dressers, their partners, and others within the transgender community speaking, along with Senior Constable Gabrielle Tyack, Victorian Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison officer attending, and Sue Pennicuik MLC Victorian Greens present.

“Everyone stood in one minute silence and those we have lost were remembered. We all know there is a sad truth behind why Transgender Day of Remembrance exists although it is apparent that each decade gets better due to the sex and gender diverse community campaigning, and getting help from allies in various communities.”

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