This Sunday, November 20 marks the 13th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day set aside to remember those who have died as a result of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.
Just this week, a burned and dismembered body found on a Detroit road has been identified as 19-year-old transgender woman, Shelly Moore.
In the recent Tranznation survey, 87% of the Australian transgender people who participated said they had experienced at least one form of stigma or discrimination on the basis of their gender; a third had been threatened with violence; one fifth had been physically attacked.
The scope and seriousness of physical and mental health problems faced by transgender people in Australia has led the Board of the National LGBTI Health Alliance to make sex and gender diversity one of the organisation’s top priority areas, establishing a working group composed of some of Australia’s foremost transgender activists. Sujay Kentlyn, a genderqueer-identifying person, has been appointed as a health policy officer with the alliance, to work in this priority area.
“While we remember the lives damaged and lost to Transphobia in this country, this year we also have a lot to celebrate,” alliance working group convenor Peter Hyndal said.
“We congratulate the Commonwealth Government on its reform of passport laws, allowing transgender people to be identified as their lived gender without the requirement of surgery, and also allowing Transgender people and those of ambiguous sex to list their gender on passports with an ‘X’ if their choice is supported by a doctor’s statement.”
Hyndal also said the organisation was encouraged by the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to introduce new prohibitions on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, which is part of the current consultation on the Consolidation of Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination Laws.
“Nevertheless, we know a lot more work needs to be done, especially in the areas of health reform, and sex and gender on documents. Transgender people are among the most disadvantaged in Australia, and we are keen to work with the government to significantly improve their health and wellbeing,” he added.
Twenty10 will hold an observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance in its drop-in centre on Monday, November 21.
A burning candle on an altar will be the centrepiece of the event as flame represents remembrance and to symbolise an eternal soul.
Young people are welcome to place photos, effigies and symbols representing those they wish to remember.
As part of the event, Twenty10 will also have posters and information to further educate about hate crimes against transgender people, cis-sexism and gender identity.
Since 1999, trans people who have been victims of homicide have been remembered every November.
Transgender Day of Remembrance raises public awareness of hate crimes against trans people, provides a space for public mourning, and honours the lives of those trans people who might otherwise be forgotten.
Through observing Transgender Day of Remembrance, love and respect for transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, or otherwise gender-variant people is shown in the face of indifference and hatred.
Transgender Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that transgender, transsexual, cross-dressing and gender diverse people are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers.
It also gives allies a chance to step forward and memorialise those who have died by anti-transgender violence.
“As an organisation we have a responsibility to act on those areas of our world and the communities we are a part of, to work where the greatest amount of inequality exists,” Twenty10 managing director Rebecca Reynolds said.
“We hope by speaking to our community, partners and young people about the importance of this event, that we can encourage an ongoing conversation that leads to the eradication of many of the systemic barriers to equality for trans people.”
Also in Sydney, the Still Fierce collective are holding an event at Taylor Square from 5.30pm to 11pm with performances, speeches, food and music.
Come and remember those in the trans community that have been lost due to hatred and violence, while celebrating the strength and diversity of the trans community.