For Transgender Day of Remembrance

On 20th November each year, vigils take place across the world to remember those lost to anti transgender violence every year. This year the list stretches to more than one person for every single day. 375 trans people have been killed since November 20 2021. It’s grim reading. So many are in their 20s. These are not just names on a page. They are people with feelings, hopes, dreams whose lives were taken from them as a result of prejudice and discrimination.

Transgender Day of Remembrance started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to remember Rita Hester who had been killed the year before.

A good few years ago now, I was in London with some young people and, at their request,  spent a rainy Saturday evening that we could have spent in a warm theatre standing in Trafalgar Square in the freezing rain at a hate crime vigil.  Not long after that, one of those young people came out as transgender.  He was under no illusion about the prejudice he faced, yet he knew that the only way he could have a fulfilling life was to be open about his true self. That takes incredible courage and requires our sensitivity and support. Every time we open our mouths on this subject, or get ready to hit our keyboards, we need to think about the human cost of our words. If in doubt, be extra kind.

In the UK today, trans people face a barrage of prejudice and discrimination wherever they turn. Anti-trans activists dominate newspaper columns and broadcast interviews while complaining of being silenced. Helen Belcher wrote about the current climate on this site the other day.

Of course, what’s striking in this “visibility week” is the complete absence of trans people. Instead we had to rely on folk like Sal Brinton and Brian Paddick to do the heavy lifting in the Lords – which they did superbly, as they always do.

The net effect – well, we see that in the numbers for the Trans Day of Remembrance. While murders of trans people in the UK are infrequent, they still happen. But killings of trans people across the world are at an all-time high. Normalising language that demeans others always results in increasing violence against those others.

One of the reasons Liberal Democrats exist is to create a society where:

in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely. Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, caste, heritage, class, religion or belief, age, disability, sex, gender or sexual orientation’ and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

When we see a group of people under attack simply for being who we are, it is imperative that we strive to make the world better for them. We have to pick a side. Standing by and watching a deeply damaging and abusive “debate” in which the world gets progressively less safe for trans people is simply not an option.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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One Comment

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 21st Nov '21 - 9:08am

    Caron, what a wonderful, inspirational story about the young people who chose to give up an evening at the theatre to attend a vigil for victims of hate crime. You must have felt so proud of them, even if possibly, at times, on that cold, wet evening, you may have rather wished, on one level, that they had opted for Les Mis! I hope the young person who soon afterwards found the courage to come out as trans, is now living his best life.
    It is so sad that discussion on trans rights has come to be dominated by people who seem to believe that the human rights of one marginalised group of people can somehow be in conflict with the rights of others. Whereas in fact any threat to the human rights of any group, is a threat to the human rights of us all.
    You are so right in saying that we should always stop, before speaking or posting a comment, and ask whether the comment we have in mind may possibly cause hurt to people who already feel their rights, and their very existence, to be under threat. This is not to say that there may not be a few difficult questions, or that these questions should not be discussed, but they should be discussed with kindness, and with a genuine intention to find ways to ensure that the human rights of all groups, and all individuals, are protected, enhanced and celebrated.

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