369 transphobia murder victims remembered | Trans Day of Remembrance 2018


Kagiso Maema from Rustenburg

Hundreds of victims of deadly transphobia are being remembered today as the world marks the International Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR).

In its latest update, the Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project has revealed that there were 369 reported murders of trans and gender-diverse people around the world from 1 October 2017 to 30 September 2018.

This represents an increase of 44 cases compared to the previous year and 74 cases compared to 2016. It’s unclear if the upward trend represents a spike in transphobic murders or if it reflects better reporting, or both.

Those listed faced horrific deaths, with most being shot, beaten or stabbed. There were also cases in which the victims were hung, had their throats slit, were decapitated, tortured and stoned to death.

Three South African victims are named in the report: Joan Thabeng from Gauteng, who was murdered and dragged though the streets of Mohlakeng in November 2017; 25-year-old Kagiso Maema, from Seraleng in Rustenburg, whose body was discovered on 6 January; and Gugu Modise, who was stabbed to death on 1 September in Ventersdorp.

Held every year on 20 November since 1999, TDoR aims to raise public awareness of hate crimes against trans people, provides a space for public mourning and honours the lives of trans and gender-diverse people.

Most SA victims of transphobia don’t report it

The cases documented by TMM are only those reported to the project, and it’s believed that many more killings are not identified or reported as transphobic in nature. Also, it is likely that many victims are misgendered by family and the authorities, out of hostility, stigma and ignorance.

“Trans and gender-diverse people are victims of horrifying hate violence, including extortion, physical and sexual assaults, and murder,” said TMM in a statement. “In most countries, data on murdered trans and gender-diverse people are not systematically produced and it is impossible to estimate the actual number of cases.”

The majority of the murders in the past year occurred in Brazil (167), Mexico (71), the United States (28), and Colombia (21). There were 17 incidents in Africa. This adds up to a total of 2,982 reported cases in 72 countries worldwide between 1 January 2008 and 30 September 2018.

Joan Thabeng from Gauteng

“Violence against trans and gender-diverse people frequently overlaps with other axes of oppression prevalent in society, such as racism, sexism, xenophobia, and anti-sex worker sentiment and discrimination,” said TMM.

The group noted that the victims whose occupations are known are mostly sex workers (62%). In the United States, the majority of the trans people reported murdered are trans women of colour and/or Native American trans women (85%). In France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, which are the countries to which most trans and gender-diverse people from Africa and Central and South America migrate, 65% of the reported murder victims were migrants.

According to OUT’s 2016 Love Not Hate study, 47% of transgender South Africans experienced some form of discrimination in the previous 24 months. Of these, 13% reported being sexually abused or raped and 13% had experienced other forms of violence. Seventy-six percent of transgender people who experienced discrimination said they had not reported these incidents to the police.

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