by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
Each year, national Transgender Day of Remembrance provides an opportunity for communities to come together and remember Transgender people, gender-variant individuals, and those perceived to be Transgender who have been murdered because of hate.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28, 1998, launched the 'Remembering Our Dead' web project and a San Francisco vigil the following year.
The event provides a forum for Transgender communities and allies to raise awareness of the threat of violence faced by gender variant people and the persistence of prejudice felt by the Transgender community. Communities organize events and activities including town hall style 'teach-ins,' photography and poetry exhibits and candlelit vigils. These activities make anti-Transgender violence visible to stakeholders like police, the media and elected officials.
In Seattle, annually, a number of events take place. Seattle Gay News was in attendance at an event that was open to the public at Seattle University, produced by Seattle University Campus Ministries, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Gender Galaxy and Triangle Club. The 6:00-7:00 p.m. event, held outside on the walkway next to the Chapel of St. Ignatius reflection pool, was well attended with over 50 people that came to show solidarity with the Trans* community, hear the names of Transgender and people perceived to be Transgender that we killed or died by suicide this year, and reflect on their thoughts about this day while lighting a candle and floating it in the pool. Some people cried, others embraced; while few spoke the presence of the importance of this event and Transgender Day of Remembrance hung in the air.
Reporter Lexie Cannes, a Transgender woman, began to list the deaths that occur each year back in 2012 for the Huffington Post. This year, Cannes reported:
o Gypsie Gül: Found dead in her home by relatives in Istanbul, Turkey.
o Mary Joy Añonuevo: Stabbed to death in her place of business in Lucena, Philippines.
o Michelle Sherman (aka TajShon, Ashley): Found by police near an Indianapolis, Indiana, condo complex with brutal head wounds.
o Keeta Bakhsh: Died after being released from a hospital following a beating while in police custody in the Bahawalpur District of Pakistan. The police suspended one officer and promised an investigation.
o Jennifer Laude: Found with her head in a toilet bowl in Olongapo, Philippines. A U.S. Marine, Scott Pemberton, is being held on suspicion of involvement in the victim's death.
o Gull dos Santos: Was shot in the face three times while walking down a busy street in Brazil. Two men rode off on a motorcycle.
o Mayang Prasetyo: Found dismembered in her apartment in Brisbane, Australia. Her husband, Marcus Volke, fled the scene and was later found dead after committing suicide.
o Aniya Parker: Shot in the head on a Los Angeles-area street after running away from a group of men and died later at a hospital. There is surveillance video footage of the shooting, but no suspects have been identified.
o Marcella Duque: Stoned to death by attackers in Colombia.
o Alejandra Leos: Shot to death near her home in Memphis, Tennessee. A suspect, Marshall Pegues, was quickly arrested and charged with murder.
o Lele: Found dead, wrapped in a sheet, lying next to a roadside on the island of Roatán just off the Honduran coast. The victim was deaf. Two suspects were initially arrested but later released.
o Mia Henderson: Found by police brutally killed in a Baltimore, Maryland alley. The victim was the sister of NBA player Reggie Bullock.
o Yaz'min Shancez: Found burned to death in Fort Meyers, Florida. Police later arrested Terry Lynn Brady and charged him with the crime.
o Tiffany Edwards: Gunned down in the middle of the street in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was found by a sanitation worker. Quamar Edwards (no relation) turned himself in after an arrest warrant was issued.
o Zoraida Reyes: Found in a parking lot in Santa Ana, California. A few months later Randy Lee Parkerson was charged with felony murder.
o Kandy Hall: Found brutally murdered in a field in Baltimore, Maryland.
o Çagla Joker: Gunned down by assailants in Istanbul, Turkey. Two suspects were arrested.
o Sevda Basar: Found buried in the vineyard of her boyfriend's place of employ near Antep, Turkey, dead from a gunshot wound to the chest. Ethem Orhan has admitted to the police that he killed Basar.
o Prince Joe: Stabbed to death in Belize after being held up at knife point and giving the attackers everything they wanted. Video of the robbery has not led to identifying suspects.
o Rosa (aka Rose; Dido): Found dead from blunt head trauma in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The victim was Indonesian and in Canada on a work visa. Marcel Cristian Niculae was arrested and charged with murder.
o Curtis Lipscomb: Found shot and burned beyond recognition in a trash can in Detroit, Michigan.
o Brittany Stergis: Found in her car, shot in the head, in Cleveland, Ohio.
o Betty Skinner: Disabled and a resident of a senior apartment center in Cleveland, Ohio, she was found dead in her bed with head injuries.
o Jacqui Cowdrey: Found dead in her home in Worthing, a town along the south coast of England.
o Mahadevi: Pushed off a moving train in Bangalore, India.
'This is by no means a complete list,' said Cannes. 'Most Transgender deaths are unreported or lost due to misgendering.'
Cannes says it is important to note not everyone agrees on which types of deaths ought to be included in such lists. Cannes included domestic violence and suspicious deaths but excluded suicide and started with the most recent death and worked back to November 2013, from the last Transgender Day of Remembrance.
While there is still a ton of work to do in Seattle for Trans* citizens, there is even more to do at a national level. A few years ago, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality teamed up to do a comprehensive study of discrimination against Trans* people that resulted in dramatic findings on the impact of anti-Transgender bias presented throughout the report. In many cases, a series of bias-related events lead to insurmountable challenges and devastating outcomes for study participants.
Several findings worth noting include that discrimination was pervasive throughout the entire sample, yet the combination of anti-Transgender bias and persistent, structural racism was especially devastating. People of color in general fare worse than white participants across the board, with African American Transgender respondents faring far worse than all others in most areas examined.
Respondents lived in extreme poverty. The report sample was nearly four times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000/year compared to the general population.
A staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6% of the general population, with rates rising for those who lost a job due to bias (55%), were harassed/bullied in school (51%), had low household income, or were the victim of physical assault (61%) or sexual assault (64%).
In January of this year, a new study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - UCLA Law School's Williams Institute, found:
o 78 percent of survey respondents suffered physical or sexual violence at school (attempted suicide).
o 65 percent of respondents experienced violence at work.
o Over half of those experienced harassment or bullying in schools.
o 57 percent of those reported that their family chose not to speak/spend time with them.
o 69 percent of those had ever experienced homelessness.
o 60 percent of those who reported a doctor or healthcare provider refused to treat them.
o 51 percent of those who are HIV-positive.
o 55-65 percent of those with disabilities.
o 57-61 percent of those disrespected or harassed by law enforcement officers.
And in an even newer study conducted in July 2014, by the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and The Fenway Institute with over 450 Trans residents evaluated about the needs of public accommodations and health during the past year reports:
o Overall, 65% of respondents reported discrimination in one or more public accommodation settings in the past 12 months.
o The five most prevalent public accommodations discrimination settings were: transportation, retail, dining, public gathering location, and health care.
o Those who reported public accommodations discrimination in the past 12 months had an 84% increased risk of adverse physical symptoms in the past 30 days and 99% increased risk of emotional symptoms.
o One in five respondents postponed or did not try to get health care in the past year because of prior experiences of mistreatment in health care settings.
o Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they had not seen a doctor in the past year, while 29% reported having to teach their health care provider about Transgender health issues.
In Seattle, several organizations exist to fight for Trans* equality, help people with their transition or answer questions they might have about an array of topics, and more. If you are Trans* or think that you might be, need someone to talk to, or even just want to learn more about Trans* people, you can contact the following organizations and they will do their best to help you with your query:
Gender Alliance of South Sound (http://www.southsoundgender.com/) (253) 383-2318 - Provides support, referral to resources, peer counseling and fellowship for individuals who are Transgender, crossgender, intersex, androgyne, gender variant, crossdressers, or are involved in activities or expressions of gender identity or presentation divergent from their gender assigned at birth.
Gender Diversity (http://www.genderdiversity.org/) - Our organization offers year round support for families as well as trainings for organizations and providers - with a Transgender youth focus.
Gender Odyssey (http://www.genderodyssey.org/) - Gender Odyssey is a national conference for those interested in the thoughtful exploration of gender. All genders and all ages are welcome. Since 2001, this conference has helped Transgender people, their families, friends and allies to empower themselves and create community. Gender Odyssey is also a fiscal project of Gay City Health Project.
Gender Odyssey Family (http://www.genderodysseyfamily.org/) - Gender Odyssey Family is an annual conference for families who are working to navigate the day-to-day realities of raising a gender-nonconforming or Transgender child. As one of the only opportunities in the country to find valuable resources, information and networking opportunities, Gender Odyssey Family provides real tools to support and encourage your child's gender self-discovery.
Gender Justice League (www.genderjusticeleague.org) - Gender Justice League's Mission is to empower Trans* activists and our allies to fight oppression based on gender & sexuality in Washington state and to create a community where Trans* people can live their lives safely, true to themselves, and free from discrimination. We meet every Tuesday night at Agnes Underground located at 1433 12th Avenue in the basement from 7:00-9:00 p.m. We host regular membership meetings on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the months and New Member Orientations on the 1st Tuesday of the month. 3rd and 5th Tuesdays are special events, social events, or community gatherings. Please check out our website at www.genderjusticeleague.org for more information.
Emerald City Social Club (http://theemeraldcity.org/) - A social, educational, and support group for crossdressers, Transexuals, and other individuals who identify themselves as Transgender.
Ingersoll Gender Center (http://www.ingersollcenter.org/) (Located at Gay City, 517 E. Pike St. on Capitol Hill) - Ingersoll Gender Center supports Transgender people towards growth and well-being. Ingersoll provides support, education, and advocacy and information resources for people interested in gender identity issues, and for service providers, employers, families and friends in order to promote understanding, awareness and acceptance of gender diversity.
Social Outreach Seattle (www.SocialOutreachSeattle) - Contact SOSea's Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Outreach Director Mac S. McGregor at SocialOutreachSeattle@gmail.com for assistance.
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