November 25th is commemorated annually by the LGBTQ+ community and allies as the Transgender Day Of Remembrance. This is the lives of those we have lost due to transphobic related violence. The day was started in by 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. On November 28, 1998, Hester, a Black transgender woman from Boston, Massachusetts, was stabbed and killed in her own apartment. Hester’s killing and other cases like hers drew attention to the frequency of killings of transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, and the speed with which their deaths were forgotten by the community. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence since Rita Hester’s death, and began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.
In Uganda, the number of transgender lives lost to hate related violence grows annually. Last year, a total of 375 transgender people were killed across the world; and these are the ones that were documented or profiled. Countries like Uganda where transgender existence is criminalized do not have accurate police records speaking to these deaths. According to this report, 2021 was the year with the highest deaths since documenting of murders on gender diverse persons begun. 1 out 4 of these people were murdered in their homes.
Transgender persons continue to live their lives in fear as the community and duty bearers have made it clear they are transphobic. “You hear news of the murder of a transgender person and you grieve but not just for them but for yourself as well because you know the only thing separating you from that dead body is geography. Sometimes it feels like we are all a statistic waiting to happen,’ Alaine from Trans Equality Uganda.
You can participate in Transgender Day of Remembrance by attending and/or organizing a vigil on November 20 to honor all those transgender people whose lives were lost to anti-transgender violence and learning about the violence affecting the transgender community.