These People Died “Simply For Living Their Lives”


People will gather around the world on November 20 to remember victims of anti-trans violence.
Diana Sacayan dedicated her life to protecting the rights of the LGBTQ
community in her native Argentina. But that work was cut tragically
short in October, when the prominent activist was found murdered in her Buenos Aires home.
She was one of three transgender women killed in Argentina in the span
of a month, and she is one of dozens of men and women whose lives are
honored on Friday, November 20, as crowds gather around the world to
observe International Transgender Day Of Remembrance.
At least 79 people have died from anti-trans violence so far this year, according to a list maintained by International Transgender Day of Remembrance organizers.
These figures, compiled based on media reports, do not even include
suicide or acts of domestic violence. Anti-trans attacks are brutal, and
many go unsolved. Another group, the Trans Murder Monitoring Project, has documented more than 1,700 deaths over seven years.
International Transgender Day Of Remembrance started in San Francisco in
1999, as a candlelight vigil honoring Rita Hester, a transgender woman
found dead in her Massachusetts apartment the year before. Now, 16 years
later, observance of the day has spread across the globe. Organizers
say there will be more than 300 events worldwide this year.
“We
want people to honor the people that have fallen just simply by living
their life,” Marti Abernathey, a volunteer who helps run the
International Transgender Day of Remembrance list and website, told
Refinery29. “They weren’t activists…some of them are, but that’s not
why they died. They died simply because they were trans and they were
living their life. “

Mercedes Williamson was found dead in Alabama.
From
Texas to Tel Aviv, crowds will form, often with candles, to read the
names of those who lost their lives. The 2015 list includes: Diosvany
Muñoz Robaina, a 24-year-old who was stoned to death in Cuba; Mercedes
Williamson, a 17-year-old beaten to death in Rocky Creek, AL; and two
unidentified women who were fatally shot in Peshawar, Pakistan. While
many of the deaths recorded by TDOR organizers were in South America, at
least 14 have been documented in the United States so far this year.

Abernathey
said just hearing the names, ages, and causes of death can have “a huge
impact on people,” and can help those outside the trans community
understand “how brutal this is and how trans lives are not seen as
valuable” in many parts of the world. She said the organizers’ goal is
to continue to improve and expand reporting on anti-trans violence in
the years to come.

“We’re just bringing this community to a lot
of peoples’ attention,” Abernathey said. “That we exist, that we are out
in society. And right now, our lives are in danger, even in America.”

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