The Trans Murder Monitoring Project (TMM) has revealed its annual report on the number of trans people known to have been murdered in the world in the past year, and it makes for chilling reading.
In total, the project reports that there have been 238 reported killings of trans people in the period November 20, 2012 to November 1, 2013. Cases have been identified across 26 countries, and the numbers show several worrying trends.
Firstly, in terms of pure numbers, the countries with the most murders of trans people are:
Yet when considering those murders relative to population size, the list changes quite considerably. While of course any murder rate is entirely unacceptable, the USA’s known murder rate becomes relatively small (the project estimates it to be about 0.05 per million inhabitants), whereas Hondouras’ rate stands at 1.5 trans murders per million inhabitants. That’s incredibly concerning.
What’s more,the report reveals that between the period of January 1, 2013 and October 31, 2013, the project recorded the highest number of people considered legal minors being murdered since the record began. As of the end of October, 22 people under the age of 20 had been murdered, one of whom was a 13-year-old Brazilian girl who was found strangled in the Macaiba, Brazil in June.
The report also specifically highlights the murder of 16-year-old Dwayne Jones. Jones attended a party in St. James, Jamaica, on July 22. At the party she was chased by a gang of partygoers and brutally murdered when they realized Jones was trans.
The Trans Murder Monitoring Project (TMM) began in 2009. It was set up by the group Transgender Europe as a way of cataloging and tracking the murder of trans people, something that due to a lack of recognition many world governments fail to do.
While a figure of 238 people might sound low given that 26 countries were involved in the report, the true figure is likely far greater than this. As such, the report isn’t exactly intended as discussing trans murder rates compared to national averages, but to raise public awareness that the trans community continues to suffer high rates of violent, and frequently fatal, crimes.
It’s also worth noting the reasons behind why it’s hard to get accurate figures on how many trans people are murdered every year. Widespread discrimination against trans people means that media reports might erase trans identity. In some countries police reports might also misgender victims, meaning that a proper estimate can’t easily be secured.
This is why Transgender Europe has campaigned for more comprehensive European hate crimes figures, so that a truer picture of bias motivated and violent crimes against the trans community can be secured. Tracking means that action can be targeted in regions where it is most needed, and accurate figures can also be used to put pressure on world governments to act to stem violent crime.
A Transgender Europe spokesperson is quoted as saying about this year’s report: “The alarming figures demonstrate once more that there is an urgent need to react to the violence against trans people and to seek mechanisms to protect trans people. Some international trans activists even started to introduce the term ‘transcide’ to reflect the continuously elevated level of deadly violence against trans people on a global scale.”
The report is issued in November of every year ahead of the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is marked on November 20. The event was founded in 1998 to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester of Allston, Massachusetts. It is used as an event to both remember those in the community who have been killed, and to call for further action to help support and protect the trans community, which continues to suffer a disproportionately high risk of discrimination and violence around the world.
Among those who will be remembered this year will be Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old woman from New York City who died in the hospital in August after being brutally beaten. The investigation surrounding her death is still ongoing, but Nettles’ murder drew international attention and a public outcry from the trans community and its supporters.
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