Trigger warning for mention of abuse, murder, and police violence.
Hi Berkeley High School! This is Ruby Lim-Moreno, the president of the Alliance Of Gender Expansive Students (AGES) club. As November turns to December, I invite you to learn about an important date that occurred this past month.
Every year on November 20, transgender and gender non-conforming people around the country gather to honor the memories of the transgender people who where killed that year in the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Started in 1999 by activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith, the day of commemoration grew to have international recognition. The celebration differs from the Trans Day of Visibility, which serves more to celebrate the contributions of trans individuals to society and focus on the positive aspects of the trans experience.
This year so far, there have been 34 reported murders of transgender individuals in the United States. It is important to note that the vast majority of these murders are unreported as a result of institutional and cultural transphobia in our nation. Nevertheless, those whose violent murders were reported in 2020 deserve to have their stories told. First, their names:
Dustin Parker, Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, Yampi Mendez Arocho, Monika Diamond, Lexi, Johanna Metzger, Serena Angelique Velazquez Ramos, Layla Pelaez Sanchez, Penelope Dias Ramirez, Nina Pop, Helle Jae O’Regan, Tony McDade, Dominique Fells, Riah Milton, Jayne Thompson, Selena Reyes Hernandez, Brian Powers, Brayla Stone, Merci Mack, Shaki Peters, Bree Black, Summer Taylor, Marilyn Cazares, Dior H Ova, Queasha D Hardy, Aja Raquell Rhone Spears, Kee Sam, Aerrion Burnett, Mia Green, Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas, Felycya Harris, Brooklyn Deshuna, Sara Blackwood, Angel Unique.
I encourage you to research the people listed here to learn about their lives and honor them.
These victims are from around the country, from California to Puerto Rico, Indiana to Louisiana, and everywhere in between. While they lived very different lives from one another, they all died in a similar way, as victims of a bigoted country’s failure to protect them. Despite the differences in lives of this year’s victims, certain patterns are clear. The fact that more than half of the victims are Black or Latinx clearly demonstrates that this is an intersectional issue. Not only that, but an astonishing number of the murders were at the hands of law enforcement officers. Take Tony McDade, a Black trans man who was shot to death by police in Tallahassee. Or Jayne Thompson, a trans woman killed by a state trooper in Mesa County, Colorado. The data also shows a much higher percentage of killings were reported in conservative states, particularly ones in the South. Sadly, until real, substantial protections are implemented on a national level, these things will continue to happen. It is important, in our current society, to push for change, however small, as lives are on the line.