“We must continue to show that we stand in solidarity with the transgender community and make sure that these murders do not go unnoticed. We grieve for every person lost.” ― Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (19 Nov. 2020) ― Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is held annually on November 20. The origins of TDoR link back to Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman, who was murdered in 1998 just 2 days before her 35th birthday. Since then, TDoR has become a way to pay respect to transgender and gender-diverse victims of anti-transgender violence.
“Though public vigils may be difficult to attend due to COVID-19 precautions, it’s vital that the spirit of Transgender Day of Remembrance continues online,” said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “We must continue to show that we stand in solidarity with the transgender community and make sure that these murders do not go unnoticed. We grieve for every person lost.”
Troubling statistics see a 6% increase in reported murders
According to Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide’s annual update, a total of 350 transgender and gender-diverse people were registered as murdered between October 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, a 6 per cent increase from the 2019 annual update.
This number only accounts for reported cases. Countries such as Canada that, as NUPGE has previously reported, have problematic data collection methods and categories cannot accurately track the number of hate crimes and violent acts against transgender people.
Pandemic exacerbates dangers to an already vulnerable group
In early 2019, governments were pushing the idea that the pandemic would be the great equalizer, as COVID-19 does not discriminate. NUPGE raised a counter argument to that position in early April 2020, with a research paper called COVID-19 and Income Inequality. Within weeks of the first wave of the pandemic, it became clear that COVID-19 does not affect all groups equally.
Low-income, part-time, and precarious workers — the majority of whom are women, Indigenous people, members of LGBTQI2S communities, immigrants, refugees, and people with disabilities — feel the economic effects of the pandemic the hardest. They are also a significant portion of the population most at risk for contracting COVID-19 due to their jobs, their inability to work from home, their inability to self-isolate, their inability to access appropriate PPE, and their economic situations. A recent report from Statistics Canada called COVID-19 mortality rates in Canada’s ethno-cultural neighbourhoods confirms NUPGE’s research that COVID-19 has intensified preexisting inequalities, and that BIPOC have a higher likelihood of dying from COVID-19.
It’s a fact that transgender people endure higher rates of poverty and homelessness than cisgender people. Transgender people are also more likely to be at risk for harassment and violence if they’re women, Black, Indigenous, or people of colour. The health and economic perils brought on by the pandemic, coupled with preexisting inequality and transphobia, puts transgender and gender-diverse people in a more vulnerable situation than ever before.
Other data from Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide’s annual update
- 350 trans and gender-diverse people were murdered, 6% more than in the TMM update 2019.
- 98% of those murdered globally were trans women or trans feminine people.
- 62% of murdered trans people whose occupation is known were sex workers.
- People of colour make up 79% of the 28 trans people murdered in the USA.
- 11 trans people murdered in Europe; 50% were migrants.
- 82% of all the murders registered happened in Central and South America; 43% in Brazil.
- 38% of the murders took place on the street and 22% in their own residence.
- The average age of those murdered is 31 years old; the youngest being 15 years old.
Participate in TDoR events
NUPGE encourages its members to find a TDoR event locally or online to honour those we lost to anti-transgender violence in 2020. Canada has made strides in recent years to better protect transgender and gender-diverse rights, but more must be done, both at the personal level to become better allies, and at the structural level to educate and end transphobia, and to reduce the inequality transgender and gender-diverse people face.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE