Honoring Murder Victims on Transgender Day of Remembrance
On October 23, Detroit police found a burnt torso near I-94 on Detroit’s east side. It took two weeks before it was identified as belonging to missing transgender teenager Michelle Moore, also known to friends as Shelly Revlon.
A cab driver who Hilliard often used dropped her off at a house on the night of October 23, Lyniece Nelson, Hilliard’s mother, told the Detroit Free Press.
Nelson says he claimed that there were three men waiting for Hilliard and that her daughter called the driver back and he “started to hear her say, ‘What are you doing,’ then scream out loud ‘No,’ then her phone dropped, a few muffling noises, then the phone went dead… By the time he got back around the corner, there was no one in sight.”
“This tragic event must not go unnoticed,” said Nusrat Ventimiglia , Equality Michigan’s director of victim services, in a statement.
“Transgender women of color are often targets of hate violence in our region and throughout the country. National research shows that transgender women of color face the most severe violence, including murder, and are most likely to experience discrimination and intimidation.”
“I called her Treasure because of what the word, itself, means,” Nelson said. “That’s what she was: my treasure. She was – and still is – my everything.”
“They thought they had silenced her, but what they did was release a monster in her mother,” she said. “I’m going to make sure that whoever did this will pay and justice will be served. I’m going to make sure that no other LGB – and please don’t forget the T – person has to go through this again.”
In the US, national surveys report that more than half of all transgender people report being violently assaulted, 14% report being raped. For transgender youth, three quarters report being harassed. 64% of transgender study participants report suicidal feelings as a result of transphobic violence or trauma.
In the first nine months of 2011, 221 transgender people have been killed around the world, according to Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM). This unique project started in April 2009 and systematically monitors, collects and analyses reports of homicides of trans people worldwide. Most reported cases were from Central and South America, which account for 80 percent of the globally reported homicides of trans people since January 2008.
The project says that even these high numbers are only a fraction of the real figures:
The truth is much worse. These are mainly the reported cases, which could be found through Internet research. In most countries, data on murdered trans people are not systematically produced and it is impossible to estimate the numbers of unreported cases.
Another finding of these updates is that while Brazil has received special attention due to the elevated number of killings, the number of killings in other South and Central American countries like Venezuela, Honduras and in particular Guatemala is equally or even more worrying in view of the much smaller population sizes of these countries.
Since 1999, the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), on which those trans people who have been victims of homicide are remembered, takes place every November 20.
TDoR began in reaction to the brutal murder of Rita Hester, who was killed on November 28, 1998. Her murder resulted in the creation of the Remembering Our Dead web site and a candlelight vigil in 1999. Observances for the Transgender Day of Remembrance typically consist of the reading of the names of those who have died because of their gender identity, expression, presentation or perception of gender variance. Last year they took place in more than 180 cities in more than 20 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania.
You can find an observance near you on this website.
Picture by rogerglenn