The International Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2010

Today is the 12th International Transgender Day of Remembrance. (There were several blogs which reminded me, but it was the Womanist Musings post which came up at the right moment to spark a post.)

I’m starting by reading over the Wikipedia article “List of unlawfully killed transgender people”. (It’s very sad reading. Follow the links. Improve it! The discussion page is interesting as well…it’s a tricky page to get going. I tried to improve the part about Erika Keels, which had a “citation needed”, but only found a Philly City Paper article which doesn’t strongly support her death as a murder or motivated by her transgenderism. It would be good to get a follow up investigation. Whether murder or accident, her death was violent and untimely and her life worth remembering.)

These stats seem more complete and more reliable. (Such compilations are inherently difficult tasks, as the various controversies over Iraqi civilian deaths should show us. Newspaper reports are tricky and tend toward undercounting, overall. Kudos to those working on these.)

Finally, I come across what seems to be the most comprehensive and reliable report (via The Curvature).

Sorry if I go rather analytical for a bit. According to the summarization, out of 179 people reported killed, 66 had reported professions and, of those, 50 were reported to be sex workers. Sex work, at least, prostitution, is rather dangerous. This may account for some of the death rate. (Or, to flip it, a high homicide rate for transgendered sex workers could inflate the over all homicide rate.) This article cites claims for a 16x greater homicide rate for male-to-female transexuals than the (US?) national rate. Wolfram Alpha gives me a US female homicide rate of 5.4 per 100,000. Wikipedia gives me a (US?) female prositute homicide rate of 204 per 100,000. That’s 37x the base rate.

Let me be the first to point out that all these numbers are shaky and the calculation back of the envelope. Furthermore, they don’t tell me much about what conclusions to draw, except that sex work is dangerous and that sex worker rights are a very important issue. This study of mortality and morbidity of transsexuals treated with cross-gender hormones identified suicide as a major factor in increased mortality. I would like to see transfolk who have died by suicide included in the Day of Remembrance.

Being trans in our societies is obviously a difficult and dangerous situation. Feminists I have learned much from (e.g., Mary Daly) fell down hard when thinking about transsexuality (as well as other things; people are endlessly imperfect). I take this opportunity to remember that failing and resolve to do better.

More importantly, I remember those who have died of violence. I remember those who suffer for being who they are and showing it.

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