Tag: Transgender Day of Remembrance

Speaking for the Dead: Transgender Day of Remembrance


At some instant

one day

the words will cease to flow

their creator (or vessel)

having passed through

the Door

between herenow

and therethen

The words left behind

the ideas they expressed

the actions they instigated

will be all

that remains

to weigh the meaning

of this particular existence

Regret is extinguished

if the words

have expressed


concern and care

and a life lived well

–Robyn Serven

–September 21, 2007

Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse!

–John Derek, Knock on Any Door (1949)

The quote is often erroneously attributed to James Dean.

Some of the murder victims whose stories are told after the break may have tried to live with that philosophy, but the violence visited upon them almost assuredly negated the last part.  Being set on fire, run over by a car, shot in the face, or stoned to death usually preclude a “good looking corpse.”

A few comments of note:  In Brazil, where most of the murders took place, those who would probably be regarded as transgender women here are referred to as travesti (transvestites) and so male pronouns are most often used.  I tried to correct that as much as possible.  It is also the case that the Police in Brazil are whole-heartedly in favor of blaming the victim, so revenge, drug involvement, “working the program” (prostituting), revenge, or “reckoning” are almost always given as the suspected motives.  Gay men in drag, on the other hand, are usually thought to be victims of homophobia.  Finally, an autopsy of a transgender woman in Brazil is usually called a necropsy…a word which we reserve for non-sentient animals.

All of those comments may shed light on why there are so many murders in Brazil (77 out of the 118).  The United States is second, with 10, (but we try harder…I’m sure we can catch up).  Mexico is third with 9.

The list I have generated os colated from several sources, including the Transgender Violence Portal  and Memorializing 2014 at the International Transgender Day of Remembrance site.

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2012

It was the autumn of 1998, late November.  The previous month Matthew Shepard was found, barely alive and in a coma, having been tortured and tied to a fence near Laramie, Wyoming.  The person who found the body thought at first it was a scarecrow.

Hester had just returned from entertainment engagements in Europe.  She was a statuesque (over 6 feet tall and around 225 pounds) drag performer.  She is said to have had an overwhelming stage presence.  She was also reported to be very kind and well-liked by everyone in the community.

She was always nice to everyone.  She was very, very, very liked by the whole community, so what happened to her was like a real shock.

–Charito Suarez

Around 6:15pm on November 28 Rita Hester’s neighbors heard loud banging coming from inside her Allston, MA apartment.  One neighbor later reported that someone inside had yelled for help.  Police were called and arrived around 6:30pm.  They found Rita’s lifeless body in the apartment.  It had multiple stab wounds.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

This past Tuesday evening I included the following snippet in my diary, School Daze.

The average person has a 1 in 15,000 change of being murdered.  A transperson has a 1 in 13 chance of being murdered.  Additionally transpeople are eight times as likely to commit suicide.

Rightly so, cordgrass commented:

you buried the lede

a transperson has a one in thirteen chance of being MURDERED!  I had no idea!  What does that say about our society?

Do you have more links for that?

The data was taken from one of my links, but it should rightly be viewed with some skepticism.   So I went looking for the source.  I had the advantage of knowing who it was, so that made my search easier.  Back in 1999 Kay Brown (proprietress of Transgender Roadmap) shared the data  with students in her class when she was the instructor for “20th Century Transgender History and Experience” at the Harvey Milk Institute in San Francisco, (Washington Blade, Dec. 10, 1999).

Remembering Our Dead

The people listed inside have three things in common…and maybe more.  First of all, they are all dead and have died since last November 20.  Secondly, they are all transwomen.  Thirdly, they died as a result of nothing more than intense hatred.  One only needs to survey the causes of death to verify that.  In many cases, the rage that the murderer must have had is evident in the number of stab wounds, the dismemberment or other mutilation evident on the bodies, or the execution that clearly had taken place (please note how many had been shot in the head).

I provide this list, cribbed from this site, not to be a downer…though it sure brings me down…but to honor their lives and the courage it took to live them.

Tomorrow is Transgender Day of Remembrance.  We will not forget.