Gay activists in the US are today commemorating the International Transgender Day of Remembrance by reflecting on the loss of members of the transgender community due to hate or prejudice.
“The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a solemn time to reflect on those who have been murdered because of their gender identity or expression,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Centre for Transgender Equality (NCTE).
“The National Centre for Transgender Equality and our allies have made great strides advocating for federal hate crimes legislation to explicitly include crimes based on ‘gender identity and expression’ – the language that covers transgender individuals – but we will need to continue educating policy-makers about the rampant violence targeted at our communities.”
“We pledge to our transgender brothers and sisters that we will not allow a federal non-discrimination or hate crimes bill to move forward that does not include you. You are us and we will not walk down the path to equality without you at our side,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Although losses in the transgender community have been profound, this past year saw significant gains for the transgender rights movement.
States that passed or amended non-discrimination laws to include transgender protections included Washington, Hawaii and California.
Washington became one of the few states to pass a comprehensive non-discrimination law which includes protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity.
Hawaii enacted a law prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in public accommodations.
California introduced a law that amends jury instructions to state that the use of societal bias, including so-called “panic strategies,” to influence the proceedings of a criminal trial is not permitted. This legislation is named in the memory of Gwen Araujo, a transgender teenager from Newark, California, who was attacked and killed in 2002.
Based on data from the 2000 Census, the total number of people now living in a jurisdiction with a transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination law in the United States is 86 million people, 31 percent of the nation’s population.
There are 10 states that have hate crimes laws that explicitly cover transgender people: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Vermont.