Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20th)



Marlene Bennedeck Dumont
Office of the Secretary-General
ILGA Trans Secretariat

Jordan Palmer
Office of the President

Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20th)

"Even today, a high price is still paid for transgressing the gender that society imposes according to the person’s biological sex and for breaking the rules imposed by the majority," said ILGA Trans Secretariat Marlene Bennedect Dumont.  For a few years now, the Transgender Day of Remembrance has been commemorated on November 20th. In this date, we remember the comrades of all genders who have passed away due to the irrational hatred of those who believe that disruption of gender boundaries must be punished with death.

We have adopted officially this day in order to remember the death of Rita Hester, which led the following year to the creation of the website "Remembering our dead”, a project that also included a candlelight vigil in 1999 in San Francisco, USA. Since then, this event is held in many cities worldwide."

This date is important to give visibility to the consequences that exclusion and discrimination imposed by the social majority can have on a trans person (transgender, transvestites, transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender dissidents), marking her or him with stigma. The organizations representing these people and asking for respect for their human rights should continue denouncing this situation, benefiting from this Day to express demands to their States, and to increase the visibility of problems affecting trans people. In most cases, these persons are forced to become sex workers, an activity which renders them vulnerable to Hiv/Aids and which exposes them to becoming victims of violence – often resulting in loss of lives as a result of hate crimes.

"When we speak out for full equality and protections under law, we send a message to everybody, including the bullies and our lawmakers, that we are all human," said Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "Violence against LGBTI people has increased by nearly 15%; minorities and transgender women were more likely to be targeted. Of those killed, 70% were minorities and an alarming 44% were transgender women."

These hate crimes on the basis of the gender identity assumed by trans people (transgender, transvestites, transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender dissidents) are happening everywhere in the world. Today, Trans organizations committed to the defense of the rights of their collective, denounce these deaths through alerts and reports. These are collected in the Handbook of Intolerance kept by the ILGA Trans Secretariat and in the "Trans Murder Monitoring Project” of the European Union Trans Conference (TGEU). In such a way we can inform the world about global social practices that must be eradicated everywhere, since they undermine all values and dignity of the person, says Belissa Andía, of Instituto Runa de Desarrollo y Estudios sobre Genero in Peru.

The situation experienced by these persons worldwide is indeed alarming. They are excluded from education, employment, justice, health services, etc. These spaces and services, to which they are entitled as human beings and citizens, are denied to them due to transphobia. Even when they can access them in some cases, they are subject to discrimination, because they are different from the majority, because they allegedly violate the rules established by the rest of the society. This discrimination is often imposed by religious beliefs that condemn diversity.

Nowadays several international groups are advocating for the removal of the term "transsexual" from the next version of the World Health Organization (WHO) catalogue of mental illnesses. They request that this condition be recognized as part of the complex sexual identity of human beings. Any trans person –so as many non-trans persons– can attest that being trans is not something that needs psychiatric treatment: it is the process whereby a person self defines his or her gender.

According to feminist activist Silvia Buendía "Homosexuality is a sexual orientation, a person who is sexually attracted to someone of the same sex. The transsexual or transgender condition is totally different: it concerns a person born with a certain biological sex, but who starts a process of identification to another gender when growing up.

The price that is paid for breaking the barriers of sex and gender is way too high. We must all do something to stop this.


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