Texas Observes Transgender Day of Remembrance

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The International Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed in over 185 cities and more than 20 countries. In Texas, several events were held across the state to memorialize those who have been killed in the past year as a result of transphobia and hatred or fear of gender non-conforming people.

Entering in its 13th year, Transgender Day of Remembrance began in honor of Rita Hester of San Francisco, California, whose murder occurred on November 28th, 1998 and kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and vigil in 1999. This murder, like many hate crimes, still has not been solved. This year, about 71 individuals who died at the hands of violence had their names read and were recognized, including two from Texas: Artegus Konyale Madden of Denton, and an unknown woman from Houston.

While the list likely does not encompass all who have suffered from these expressions of hate, it shows how far our society still needs to go to find justice for trans* and gender diverse people. For allies, it reiterates what work still needs to do be done to help create safe spaces for all people. There is a great need for every one of us to be conscious of the work needed in our communities in order to make sure everyone has a voice and everyone's needs are addressed.

At a rainy event at Austin City Hall, a large crowd of people arrived despite weather to express love and respect in solidarity with trans*, gender variant, and gender diverse communities. The speakers at the event provided words of encouragement and reflection, many shared personal stories of their own, or those close to them they have lost. The event was sponsored by the Transgender Education Network of Texas, who has been a driving force to provide essential information and support services in the state to fight discrimination. The event also featured key organizations such as allgo; the statewide organization for queer people of color, AIDS services of Austin, Out Youth, Safe Place, and many more.

Read more on events around Texas, and the challenges faced by trans* Texans below the jump.In Houston, a living memorial was dedicated in the Montrose Remembrance Garden, which included guests such as Senator John Whitmire. In Dallas, a video reading of the names of those lost was created in memoriam. You can find more information on the events held around Texas by following the Transgender Education Network on Facebook, and for future ways to get involved.

To no surprise, here in Texas, state data has shown that transgender people are discriminated against at alarmingly higher rates in the workplace, at school, in housing, health care, and in public life. Some of the statistics are shown below. You can read the entire report here.

Harassment and Discrimination at School: Those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported alarming rates of harassment (85%), physical assault (46%) and sexual violence (9%)

Workplace Discrimination: Rates of discrimination were alarming in Texas, indicating widespread discrimination based on gender identity/expression:

      – 79% reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment on the job

      – 26% lost a job

      – 22% were denied a promotion

      – 45% were not hired

Harassment and Discrimination in Accommodations and Services:

      – 47% were verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation or service,including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies.

Health Care Discrimination and Health Outcomes:

      – 16% were refused medical care due to their gender identity/expression

      – Only 43% of the respondents had employer-based health insurance, compared to 59% of the general U.S. population at the time of the survey.

      – 41% reported attempting suicide at some point in their life, 26 times the rate of the general population of 1.6%

Especially considering the last statistic, it is obvious to see that our current climate, especially in Texas, is not where it should be. While Transgender Day of Remembrance is a time to reflect on these issues, it should also be recognized every day to bring greater awareness to trans* issues in all of our movements, especially considering the environment of a hostile state government. Yesterday marked how much more work needs to be done, but most importantly, it showed the love and support there is to keep moving forward.

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