Transgender Day of Remembrance Honors Those We've Lost to Violence

Transgender vigil
Transgender vigil

This Transgender Day of Remembrance, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation marks 10 years of tracking violent deaths of trans and gender-nonconforming people in the U.S., with the total reaching 300.

That includes 32 such deaths so far this year and a record 57 in 2021. Those are the same numbers recorded independently by The Advocate. There are likely many more such deaths in any given year, as victims are often misgendered or deadnamed by police, media, or other sources, or their deaths not reported at all.

Overall, transgender and gender-nonconforming victims of violence are overwhelmingly Black, under 35, and killed with a firearm, according to an HRC press release. More than four in five (85 percent) victims tracked were people of color, including approximately 69 percent who were Black and 15 percent who were Latinx. Seventy-seven percent were under 35. Sixty-nine percent of deaths involved a firearm.

Among other HRC findings are that 15 people were killed by police or while incarcerated in jails, prisons, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers, including two this year. In 40 percent of cases, the killer remains unknown or at large, and no arrest has been made.

Of those with a known killer, 65 percent were killed by a person they knew. Nineteen percent of those whose killer is known were killed by an intimate partner; 9.7 percent were killed by a friend or family member; and 36 percent were killed by an acquaintance. Seven in 10 of those killed were initially misgendered by the media and/or police.

The HRC has also released a report on the 2022 deaths, “An Epidemic of Violence: Fatal Violence Against Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People in the United States in 2022.”

Victims identified so far are Amariey Lej, Duval Princess, Cypress Ramos, Naomie Skinner, Matthew Angelo Spampinato, Paloma Vazquez, Tatiana Labelle, Kathryn “Katie” Newhouse, Kenyatta “Kesha” Webster, Miia Love Parker, Ariyanna Mitchell, Fern Feather, Ray Muscat, Nedra Sequence Morris, Chanelika Y’Ella Dior Hemingway, Sasha Mason, Brazil Johnson, Shawmaynè Giselle Marie, Kitty Monroe, Martasia Richmond, Keshia Chanel Geter, Cherry Bush, Marisela Castro, Hayden Davis, Kandii Redd, Aaron Lynch, Maddie Hofmann, Dede Ricks, Mya Allen, Acey Morrison, Semaj Billingslea, and Tiffany Banks.

“This report comes amidst a shockingly large wave of anti-transgender legislation, driven by disinformation and stigma,” the HRC press release notes. “Nationwide, more than two dozen anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been enacted out of more than 250 introduced, ranging from bans on transgender youth playing sports with their peers and using bathrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity, to cruel bans on doctors providing safe, legal, and medically necessary gender-affirming medical care. We have also seen an increase in bans on books discussing LGBTQ+ identities in schools, and ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’-style laws restricting the discussion — and the existence — of LGBTQ+ people in schools. Each of these bills aims to restrict the areas of public life where transgender people can freely and openly participate.”

“The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a solemn tradition, a moment where transgender and nonbinary people can gather together to mourn those lost and hope for a better future,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC's Transgender Justice Initiative, said in the release. “Ten years and over 300 deaths that we know of is a grim milestone. I call on transgender people everywhere and our allies to respond to this dark moment by advocating anywhere and everywhere, to whomever will listen, in support of our lived & legal equality — and, most importantly, our lives. We will honor their lives and their memories with action.

“For ten years, we at HRC have tracked fatal violence against trans and gender-nonconforming people, with the goal of memorializing their lives and uplifting their stories to bring this epidemic of violence to an end,” added Shoshana Goldberg, director of public education and research for the HRC Foundation. “Each and every one of the at least 300 people killed since 2013 was a person with a full, rich life that did not deserve to be cut short. This year saw unprecedented amounts of negative rhetoric and stigma aimed by anti-equality political leaders and public figures at transgender and nonbinary people, as well as their families, loved ones, and even their medical providers. You can’t separate that from the horrific, ongoing violence against transgender people. We will fight for change. We must dismantle this stigma. Together, we can bring this epidemic of violence to an end.”

Related: The Trans Americans We've Lost to Violence in 2022

The National Center for Transgender Equality has also released its “Remembrance Report” for Transgender Day of Remembrance, noting that there have been 47 known violent deaths of trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people in the U.S. since November 2021.

“Over the past several years, some politicians across the country have attempted to weaponize disinformation about trans people,” the report notes. “They misuse and abuse the powers of state governments to persecute us and our families. We live in a political climate that has exploded with antitrans legislation, policy, and rhetoric. In the 2022 elections, certain politicians spread lies about trans people, denigrating our community and stoking fear in people who simply don’t understand what it means to be trans. These actions have consequences. They contribute to a deeply unsafe environment for trans people and our families — some of whom have had to flee their home states just to get the medical care they need.” A quarter of the deaths confirmed have been in Texas and Florida, both of which have engaged in anti-trans actions recently.

“No one should have to fear violence or mourn lost loved ones,” the NCTE report continues. “No matter what, trans people across the nation deserve to live safe, healthy, and authentic lives. Trans people are vital parts of our communities. The trans experience is about far more than violence and statistics. We are brilliant, we are beautiful, and we are full of joy. Our lives have meaning. We matter.”