Transgender Day of Remembrance

From the January-February 2015 issue of News & Letters

In cities across the world, the names of Transgender people who were murdered or committed suicide were read out at rallies on or around Nov. 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The list is incomplete: many deaths go unreported. These deaths must end, now.

Ohio teenager Leelah Alcorn, who had been rejected by her family, posted her suicide note online last December: “Fix society. Please.” Then she walked into the path of a truck. It is estimated that over 40% of Transgender teenagers have attempted suicide before the age of 20 (see “Queer Notes” this page).

Javier Noyle, of Peru, was one of the latest found shot to death. No country is safe.

Most societies are unsupportive of Transgender people and there are not enough services, support groups and safe spaces for them. In the U.S., Transgender people of color are in even more danger.

Year by year, just a smattering of achievements are made. The advances toward full human rights and acceptance are too slow.

The U.S. Department of Justice has declared that discrimination against the Transgendered is sex discrimination, under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, thus promising some protections for Transgender workers. For example, Trans workers will have the right to sue employers for sex discrimination.

Florida’s Miami-Dade County, where Anita Bryant once led the backlash against legal protections for Gays and Lesbians, passed a human rights ordinance that is inclusive of Transgender people.

Internationally, Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is seeking to allow people to identify as a third gender on passports. India’s Supreme Court ruled that people may identify as “other,” rather than having to identify as either female or male. These decisions at least provide Transgender people some legal protections and rights in practice.

The online responses to Leelah Alcorn’s suicide show there is a stronger resolve to secure full human rights for Transgender people. To accomplish this, so that we may all live in a human world, a revolutionary movement is needed.

—Elise Barclay

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