Nearly every two weeks, a person is killed somewhere in the world for expressing gender nonconformity. This sobering statistic does not include the numerous other deaths that never receive media attention or are not reported to police, making the full scope of lives lost to senseless antitrans prejudice truly innumerable.
Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, the 15th anniversary of the first TDOR, held in Allston, Mass., to memorialize Rita Hester, a trans woman of color who was murdered in 1999. Over the years, TDOR has catalogued the loss of hundreds of trans and gender-nonconforming people — individuals who, within their often short lifetimes, were beloved family members, friends, and members of their communities — who faced attackers wielding slurs, weapons, and fists. Some were killed by intimate partners, some by strangers, while still others were children slain by parents who were intolerant of their gender variance.
And while transgender people, along with friends, loved ones, family, and allies, somberly remember those killed because of antitrans violence today, we also remember that there are still countless instances of transphobic acts occurring each year that do not end in death — many of which are never reported to media or authorities. Likewise, murders not covered by the media tend to become more difficult to communally memorialize on this day.
While The Advocate's memorial coverage to mark this year's TDOR focuses on women whose deaths were covered in the English-speaking press, we also honor countless other precious lives marred by violence and the multitude of others whose passing goes unspoken.
So, once again, we ask that you draw your attention to those whose deaths we mourn, not simply to cause sadness, but to raise awareness of the need for a world in which such constant mourning is never requisite again.
Alejandra Leos was fatally shot in the back while trying to leave her Memphis, Tennessee home after a fight with her boyfriend, Miguel Pegues. He has been charged with first-degree murder.
Aniya Parker was shot October 3 in Los Angeles by a group of men during what police consider a "robbery gone wrong." Nearby surveillance video recorded the attackers attempting to take Parker's purse; however, the fact that the bag was left at the scene has left some trans advocates believing she was targeted because of her gender identity.
Ashley (Michelle) Sherman was found October 27 with a gunshot wound to the head, lying underneath a light pole at Indianapolis's Tudor Park condominiums. Officials are still unsure whether she died where she was found or was moved there, but are not investigating her death as a hate crime at this time.
Betty Skinner was found December 4, 2013, at her Cleveland senior apartment complex, dead from severe head injuries. A physically disabled woman who required assisted living, she was unable to leave her bed during the attack. There are no leads or suspects.
Gizzy Fowler was found earlier this month, shot dead outside her car in the driveway of a Nashville residence. Police are still investigating who killed Fowler and why she was at the house, which was unoccupied.
Jennifer Laude was found strangled in a bathroom in Olongapo, Philippines October 11. U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton was charged with the murder, which he is accused of committing during military training exercises.
Kandy Hall died from massive bodily trauma from an unknown object. The Annapolis hairdresser's body was found in an empty field near a Baltimore school in June. Police have not yet been able to arrest a suspect.
Brittany-Nicole Kidd-Stergis died December 5, 2013, after receiving a gunshot wound to the head while sitting in her parked car in Cleveland. Six months later Delshawn Carroll was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison after confessing to the murder.
Mayang Prasetyo was murdered, police believe, by her newlywed husband, Marcus Peter Volke, who was allegedly upset that Prasetyo wanted to move out of the couple's home in Brisbane, Australia. Volke fled the scene and committed suicide before he could be arrested.
Mia Henderson was discovered dead in a Baltimore alley while police were investigating a separate, unrelated local crime. While her murder reportedly bore similarities to that of local trans woman Kandy Hall, who was found dead in an empty Baltimore field in June, police declined to directly connect the two murders — both of which remain unsolved.
Tiffany Edwards was shot to death in Walnut Hills, Ohio in June. Quamar Edwards — who is not related to Tiffany — turned himself in six days later, after police issued a warrant for his arrest. Edwards reportedly voiced a "trans panic" defense through an uncle, who alleged that the assailant "lost his cool" after Tiffany "came on to him."
Yaz'min Shancez was found deceased behind a garbage bin on a private road in Fort Myers, Florida in June. Her remains had been burned post-mortem. Police were reluctant to rule Shancez's murder a hate crime and have not publicly named a suspect.
Zoraida Reyes immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico, to live with her family in Orange County, California. In June, when Reyes's body was discovered behind an Anaheim Dairy Queen, officials were initially at a loss about what caused her death. Four months later, police arrested Randy Lee Parkerson on suspicion that he choked Reyes to death.
An Unknown Victim was allegedly killed by an intimate partner in Detroit's Palmer Park in August; LGBT advocates say she was a transgender woman. After the murder, the perpetrator reportedly drove away and crashed into another car nearby, then took off on foot, leaving his gun behind. Detroit police quickly arrested Eduardo Moss, who is suspected of attacking two other trans women near Palmer Park the previous week.
An Unknown Victim whose body was found locked inside her burning apartment in Tbilisi, in the Republic of Georgia, has been identified by Georgian LGBT activists as a 25-year-old trans woman. The fire appears to have been an attempt to destroy evidence related to the murder.
Çağla Joker was fatally shot in the chest on April 21 in her home in Istanbul while spending time with another trans woman, Nalan. Nalan was wounded in the assault but survived. Two suspects, ages 17 and 19, were quickly arrested for the murder after being caught fleeing the scene on a security camera. The suspects claimed they intended to have sexual relations with their victims and shot Joker and Nalan after realizing the women were trans.
Gypsie Gül was killed in her east Istanbul home October 10. Her body was found two days later when a friend visited. Officials have not determined whether Gül was targeted for being trans or was killed in a robbery attempt.
Jacqui Cowdrey died in her Worthing, England, home in November 2013. The exact cause of her death was never released, but officials believe she was arguing with 63-year-old Charles Schofield outside a local pub in the hours before her death. Police arrested him as well as a 34-year-old man on suspicion of murder; the pair quickly posted bail and left custody. Schofield was eventually convicted of assaulting Cowdrey, and the younger suspect is no longer being investigated.
Keeta Bakhsh of Bahawalpur, Pakistan, died after being released from the hospital following a brutal beating by police October 23. Bakhsh, a dnacer, was arrested among several coworkers when police raided their house. Police initially claimed that Bakhsh had perished from injuries sustained while jumping from a moving police van, but have since suspended the raid's leader, officer Aashiq Cheema, while they investigate excessive force allegations.
Mahadevi was a disabled trans woman pushed off a moving train in Bangalore, India last September. Witnesses say that Mahadevi was pushed by two youths and perished immediately.
Marcela Duque was stoned to death on a street in Medellin, Colombia, by a group of attackers on September 9. The murder was witnessed by Duque's 19-year-old friend, who ran to get police officers, but could not return in time to intervene in the attack.
Mary Jo Añonuevo was strangled and stabbed 33 times at the Lucena City, Philippines, bar she owned on October 21. Based on evidence, police believe there were four attackers who murdered Añonuevo during a robbery, however many of Añonuevo's friends suspect that a man she fought with hours before her death committed the murder.
Rosa Ribut was found beaten to death November 24, 2013 at an Edmonton, Canada, hotel. Also known to friends as "Rose," "Dido," or "Jon," Ribut was a gender-nonconforming Indonesian citizen who had traveled the world and ended up in Canada on a temporary work visa. She worked in a 7-Eleven but sometimes engaged in sex work, which may have played a part in her murder. Several weeks after Ribut's death, police arrested 20-year-old Marcel Cristian Niculae, who was the last person to speak to Ribut alive.
Sevda Basar was shot in the chest with a hunting rifle by her boyfriend, Ethem Orhan, in February. After the murder, Orhan stole Basar's gold jewelry, buried her body in the Antep, Turkey, vineyard where he worked, and fled to Serbia.
The official website for the Transgender Day of Remembrance listed 81 names for worldwide vigil-goers to memorialize this year; Transgender Europe has an additional 226 names.
While this report from The Advocate has focused on most of the deaths reported in the English-speaking media, all of the lives lost — as well as those never reported — are worthy of honoring.
Today we also remember:
Elizalber Oliveria de Mesquita, Paloma, Rayka Tomaz, Prince Joe, Toni Gretchen, Luana, Cristal, Thifani, Joice, Sarita, Juju, Raísa, Tatty, Rafaela, Alex Medeiros, Paulete, Camila Veronezi, Lu, Kitana, Sarita do Sopão, Andressa Pinheiro, Rose Maria, Vitória, Marciana, Nicole, Giovana Souza Silva, Mileide, Valquíria, Marcia Moraes, Paola, André Luiz Borges Rocha, Kellen Santorine, Mackelly Castro, Lele, Dennysi Brandão, Alisson Henrique da Silva, Karen Alanis, Cris, Bruna Lakiss, Gaivota dos Santos, Gélia Borghi, Sara, Aguinaldo Clãudio Colombelli, Flávia, Maicon, Letícia, Raquel, Adriana …
… and many more.