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Why we remember

It’s Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) today, the day when the trans community and our allies mourn the deaths of people killed because they were transgender or gender non-conforming.

2019 isn’t over yet but so far 331 trans people have been murdered, hanged or lynched. Those are just reported and recorded crimes; the real number is higher.

I’m lucky to live in a relatively safe part of the world: just one trans woman was murdered in the UK for being trans this year. In the US, where “trans panic” – “I discovered she was trans and I was so upset I stabbed her 27 times in self-defence” – is still a legal defence against murder in many states, there were 30 murders. In Brazil, there were 130.

I’m not a black, poor trans woman in North or South America, so my life expectancy isn’t 35. But just because “only” one trans woman was murdered in the UK doesn’t mean that people don’t die here because of fear, intolerance and hatred of trans people – although inevitably the bigots claim exactly that, while dismissing TDOR with uncanny impressions of the men who ask “but when’s international men’s day?” on International Women’s Day. We have many days to remember and raise awareness of violence against women, so for example International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is next week; the bigots are well aware of that but pretend otherwise.

You don’t need to be murdered to die because you’re trans. For example, trans people are more likely to be homeless than cisgender people. They are more likely to be forced into sex work, to be exploited. If a homeless trans person freezes to death or or if a trans sex worker dies of a drug overdose, it isn’t murder. But they’re still dead.

And then there are the lives we lose to suicide. Trans people kill themselves because they feel they can’t come out. They kill themselves when the years on waiting lists become too much to bear. And sometimes they kill themselves post-transition because while transition may fix your body, it doesn’t fix the world around you. That world is often hateful, and not everybody is strong enough to endure it.

Here in Scotland, the LGBT groups from the main political parties have released a joint statement to mark TDOR.

…visibility cannot be conflated with progress when it also makes you a visible target for abuse. For the last two years, the UK media coverage surrounding the Gender Recognition Act’s reform has concentrated on rights outwith the remit of the legalisation itself. Trans people have had hard-earned rights endowed by the Equality Act 2010 brought into question. For many trans people, it has felt as though the very foundations of their daily lives are being pulled from under their feet.

Here’s former Times editor Katherine O’Donnell.

Trans people are less than 0.5 per cent of the population but face overwhelming levels of hate and violence.

Here in the UK, some politicians, journalists and others with influential public platforms seek openly to take away the trans population’s legal protections. In Scotland, MSPs Joan McAlpine and Jenny Marra had chosen today to invite to the Scottish Parliament speakers who agitate against the human rights of trans people and call us parasites and perverts.

The event has been postponed but the intentions of these members of the SNP and Scottish Labour are plain.

The consequences of preaching hatred and division, of stripping away legal protections are greater discrimination and violence. The evidence for that is written ultimately in the hundreds of murders we remember, the suicides, the beatings, the healthcare, housing and work denied, the bullying and the daily anxiety.

I speak now directly to those journalists and politicians here in Scotland who have given platforms and lent credence to the ideas that propagate this hatred.

What you are doing is wrong and the consequences are real and terrible.

I see you. We see you.

Stop this today.