Campaigners around the world call for global action to end the 'horrifying' rise in transgender murders
Campaigners around the world are today marking Transgender Day of Remembrance by calling for an end to violence against people because of their gender identity.
Events including candlelit vigils and poetry readings have been planned to mark the occasion in hundreds of cities in 20 countries across the globe, from Canada and the United States to France, New Zealand and South Korea.
Groups including the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) and US-based GLAAD have paid tribute to those who have lost their lives to transphobia.
‘This date is important to give visibility to the consequences that exclusion and discrimination imposed by the social majority can have on a trans person, marking her or him with stigma,’ said Marlene Bennedeck Dumont, ILGA Trans Secretariat.
She added: ‘In most cases, these persons are forced to become sex workers, an activity which renders them vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and which exposes them to becoming victims of violence, often resulting in loss of lives as a result of hate crimes.’
There were 1,083 reported killings of trans people worldwide from 2008 to 2012, with research showing the number of deaths has risen each year.
Data from Trans Murder Monitoring shows 265 trans people were known to be the victims of violent killings across the world over the last 12 months, nearly a 20% increase on 2011.
The figures also reveal 64 transgender people were killed in Europe from 2008 to date.
But Amnesty International claims Europe still has a long way to go to combat violence against transgender people.
Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s discrimination expert, said: ‘Trans people are discriminated against and targeted for violence on the grounds of their gender identity and expression, in Europe and around the world.
‘This lack of protection against gender identity-based violence flouts human rights standards and fails to acknowledge that transphobic hate crime is a form of discrimination.
‘If criminal law fails to acknowledge that hate crimes can happen based on real or perceived gender identity, the hate motive is not thoroughly investigated and prosecuted.’
With only 29 countries supplying figures on the number of transgender people killed in 2012, Britain’s Trade Union Congress believes the real figure is likely to be considerably higher.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘This increase in transgender murders is shocking and these are just the cases we know about. These horrifying figures show why it is essential that we combat transgender prejudice across the world.
‘In the UK we have made enormous strides forward for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. However, there is no room for complacency even here.’
Barber points to police reports that show in the UK transgender people are far more likely to be victims of hate crimes, saying their trans union members speak of facing regular abuse and harassment.
‘The government has produced an excellent action plan for progress towards genuine equality for the transgender community but there remains an enormous amount of work to do,’ he added.
‘As we mark Trans Day of Remembrance it is essential that we continue to challenge discrimination and intimidation in both this country and abroad.’
The first TDOR was held in honor of Rita Hester, a trans activist murdered in 1998.
Since then, it has expanded its focus to remember all those who have been murdered in the previous year.
However, Amnesty International add that hate crime is not the only form of discrimination suffered by trans people.
In the majority of European countries trans people cannot seek legal recognition of their gender unless they comply with a list of criteria that can include psychiatric diagnosis, sterilisation, genital surgery and divorce.
Trans identities are also still classified as mental disorders at the international level and frequently at the national.
In countries such as Ireland and Lithuania, gaps in national legislation make it impossible for trans people to legally change their gender.
In many nations including Belgium, France, Finland, Norway and Turkey trans individuals who do not wish to undergo gender reassignment surgeries and sterilisation are not allowed to change the gender on their birth certificate.
Feminist activist Silvia BuendÃa said: ‘The price that is paid for breaking the barriers of sex and gender is way too high. We must all do something to stop this.’