November 15-20 is Transgender Awareness Week. The week culminates in the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, a day to honor and remember transgender (or perceived to be transgender) individuals who have been murdered because of discrimination and hate. The week is an opportunity to educate, engage, and get involved on behalf of equal rights and fair treatment for transgender and gender variant people and their families.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
Just so we are on the same page with language, here are some definitions I operate from when working with gender identity, transgender and/or gender variant clients and issues. For more information you can also check out trans basics glossary of terms.
Raising awareness about transgender and gender variant people and issues is crucial. The mainstream media still provides very little (or inaccurate) coverage of crimes against transgender people. And the rates of violence are alarmingly high:
55% of transgender youth report being physically attacked. (GLSEN. (2003). The 2003 national school climate survey: the school related experiences of our nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.) 74% of transgender youth reported being sexually harassed at school, and 90% of transgender youth reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression. (GLSEN. (2001). The 2001 national school climate survey: the school related experiences of our nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.) In a survey of 403 transgender people, 78% reported having been verbally harassed and 48% reported having been victims of assault, including assault with a weapon, sexual assault or rape. (Wilchins, R., Lombardi, E., Priesing, D. and Malouf, D. (1997) First national survey of transgender violence. Gender Public Advocacy Coalition.)
See the Transgenderdor.org website for more information and a list of events in your area.