Transphobic violence hits historic high

Illustration by Sarah Butler
Illustration by Sarah Butler
Illustration by Sarah Butler

Though Caitlyn Jenner made the cover of Vanity Fair and Laverne Cox prospered as a popular actress earlier this year, 2015 has been marked by historically high amounts of violence against transgender people.

According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, there have been 22 killings of transgender or gender-nonconforming people, 19 of which were black or Latina, in the United States this year.

More trans people have been killed in 2015 than in any other year, according to a tally kept by GLAAD, the organization behind the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. At least 81 transgender individuals were killed worldwide, and almost all of those killed were trans women of color.

The toll compares to 12 deaths in 2014 and 13 in the year before, and is the highest since advocacy groups began such tallies a decade ago.

Transgender Day of Remembrance occurs annually on Nov. 20 as a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia, and to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community.

The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester. Hester was a transgender African-American woman who was murdered in her own apartment in Allston, Massachusetts on Nov. 28, 1998.

The community of the time responded by initiating the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder, like most anti-transgender murder cases, has yet to be solved.

Earlier in October, Virginia Equality hosted the Virginia Transgender Information and Empowerment Seminar (Virginia TIES) in VCU’s Student Commons.

Sara Simone, a transgender woman, was a guest speaker at Virginia TIES. She honored transgender individuals who lost their lives due to hate crimes or bullying-induced suicides with a moment of silence. She acknowledged the increase in transvisibility, but continued to emphasize that visibility is not enough.

“It’s been a tough year for the trans community,” Simone said. “The fact remains this has been the most violent year in our community. As many as 21 folks, our people, have been murdered so far this year as a result of transphobic hate and violence. Nearly all victims have been trans women of color.”

Simone continued by sharing her own personal experiences as a transgender woman. Since her transition, she has faced multiple battles of homelessness for the first time in her life due to housing and employment discrimination. She also said she has faced experiences of violence and sexual assault. Simone continued by assuring the audience that her decision to transition was the best choice she had ever made.

“(My transition) was the happiest day of my life. My friends were my biggest supporters,” Simone said. “I saw a different world, it was a world of bright colors.”

In honor of Transgender Remembrance Day, several events were held throughout RVA including a film festival and open mic.

Remembrance will continue into December with a “Trans Town Hall and Dinner” on Dec. 11 hosted by Diversity Richmond.

Staff Writer, Sophia Belletti

11802522_10207448112303567_588286187022952754_oSophia is a sophomore print/online journalism major with a minor in gender, sexuality and women’s studies. She enjoys writing about current events and sports and hopes to one day be a sports reporter, covering soccer, basketball and baseball. You can usually find Sophia drinking way too much coffee and laughing at her own jokes. // Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Graphic Designer, Sarah Butler

11855783_10205970593321968_2898007745294076814_nSarah is a junior studying communication arts. In addition to being a graphic designer and contributing illustrator for the CT, Sarah also tutors math and is starting a business with her friends called No Stone Collective. Her ideal lifestyle would include lots of hiking, live music and road trips with a dog as a loyal sidekick. // Facebook | Portfolio


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