The White House has issued a statement marking yesterday’s 15th Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) has taken place every November 20th since 1999 to commemorate transgender people around the world who have been murdered.
It also aims to raise public awareness of hate crimes against trans people, provides a space for public mourning and honours the lives of those trans people who might otherwise be forgotten.
“This day is an opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives to violence and injustice because of their gender identity or gender expression,” said the White House on Wednesday.
“The Obama Administration remains committed to preventing violence against all people, including all members of the LGBT community.” The White House affirmed that this commitment “extends internationally”.
“Today is an opportunity to reflect upon and share the tremendous progress we have made over the last few years. However, let us also recommit ourselves to continuing this critically important work so that we can ensure dignity, equality, and justice for all people,” it added.
According to Transgender Europe’s International Trans Murder Monitoring Project there were 238 killings of trans people recorded worldwide between November 2012 and November 2013, eight of which were in Africa.
The number is down compared to last year’s figure of 265. It is important to note, however, that these statistics are likely to be far lower than the real number of murdered transgender people as many killings are not recorded or known about.
Cape Town based Gender DynamiX said that, “We don’t have South African figures but we know that our community is seriously under-serviced in many spheres of our society”.
The organisation will be holding sensitisation workshops this month in Polokwane, Mafikeng and Rustenburg.
Leigh Ann van der Merwe, from S.H.E. (Social, Health And Empowerment Feminist Collective Of Transgender And Intersex Women Of Africa), told ILGA that in addition to violence, trans people in Africa and South Africa continue to be neglected victims of HIV and “die in large numbers”.
“This will not change until we are recognised first, epidemiological counts of HIV among trans women are conducted, and effective evidence-based programming developed, that takes into account our unique needs as trans women, and far removed from the MSM (men having sex with men) response,” she said.
She added that the continued linking of “trans women with MSM statistics is fundamentally flawed and poses a threat to the health and well-being needs of transgender women”.