Each year on November 20, we recognize the unconscionable violence that has claimed the lives of transgender and gender nonconforming (GNC) people. Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide (TvT) identified 369 reported murders of transgender and gender-variant people that took place in 30 countries between October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018. The United States had the third highest number of murders, with a total of 28—more than two every month. As in past years, the overwhelming majority of victims were Black trans women and other trans women of color.
This year and every year, we know that deadly violence against transgender people is underreported, as the true names and identities of many victims are erased because they can no longer speak for themselves. As Muslims, we note with concern that only a few Muslim-majority nations report deaths that are included in the global tally. Rather than indicating that transgender and GNC people enjoy relative safety and acceptance in other Muslim-majority countries, the complete absence of reported killings is often a silent testament to the erasure of the lives and suffering of transgender victims.
These statistics provide a stark reminder that hate is not rhetorical, but deadly—and it is not decreasing. The global total of reported murders has increased 25% since 2016. In the United States, transgender murders increased 35% since 2008.
Transphobia takes a toll on the living, as well. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey reported that 24% of transgender people in the U.S. had been physically assaulted. The Survey also found that 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide. As transgender people continue to be demonized by the Trump administration and watch hard-won rights revoked, despair has skyrocketed for many. After a Department of Health and Human Services memo revealed a plan to erase the legal existence of transgender people last month, calls to Trans Lifeline—a suicide prevention hotline—quadrupled.
On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we honor the lives of those who are no longer with us by calling them by name and telling the truth of their stories. Recalling the wisdom of the Prophet Muhammad, who said “A moment of justice is better than seventy years of worship,” we stand in solidarity with transgender and GNC people against the forces that would silence and erase them. We entreaty all of our communities—Muslim, LGBTQ and LGBTQ Muslim—to join a Transgender Day of Remembrance event, learn what ally actions are sought by transgender and GNC people in that area, and take concrete steps toward creating a world in which Transgender Day of Remembrance is no longer necessary.
If You or a Trans/GV Loved One Are Struggling
MASGD Mental Health Resource Guide
Trans Lifeline Hotline
“2982 reported murders of trans and gender-diverse people between 1 January 2008 and 30 September 2018.” Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide. https://transrespect.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/TvT_TMM_TDoR2018_Tables_EN.pdf
“369 reported murders of trans and gender-diverse people between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018.” Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide. https://transrespect.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/TvT_TMM_TDoR2018_SimpleTable_EN.pdf
“The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey.” National Center for Transgender Equality.
“After Trump’s memo, calls to suicide hotline quadrupled.” The Advocate. https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2018/10/30/after-trumps-memo-calls-transgender-suicide-hotline-quadrupled