All of us are broken in some way. Many of the beautiful people were more broken than most of us, even before their lives came to an abrupt end. And though they may not all have been beautiful in the eyes of the world, each had their own unique beauty which leaves the world diminished by its absence.
Every year on and around 20 November, Transgender Day of Remembrance, people all over the world honour the memory of those who have died as a result of anti-trans prejudice.
According to Trans Respect versus Transphobia Worldwide, 369 trans and gender-diverse people have been reported as having been murdered in the past year. Their names – those that are known – can be found at tdor.info. Many more deaths will doubtless have gone unreported by the press, and this figure doesn’t include those trans people for whom society’s lack of acceptance drove them to take their own lives.
Yesterday, I attended a moving trans remembrance service at Augustine United Church here in Edinburgh. At last year’s service, we reflected on a list of names projected on screens while music was played, a list of names that was sadly also lengthy. This year, instead, a tree of names was positioned at the front of the church, and we were invited to take a cluster of leaves from it. Once cleared, the tree revealed a cross.
Each leaf had a name on it, and we were invited to find out more about the people on our leaves. (We were also given blank leaves, representing those victims of transphobic violence whose names we don’t know.) So I decided to find out a little about the five people whose names I had, three from Brazil (which has the highest trans murder rate) and two from Mexico.
It’s difficult to remember people you didn’t know personally, and very difficult to get a real feeling for these real people from the depersonalised media reports of their deaths, some of which are fairly transphobic. However, I invite you to do as I have done, and take a moment to reflect on the short lives of these five women. Sadly I still know very little about them, except how their lives ended.
The pictures below are taken from the sources cited.
A trans woman known only as Sabrina was murdered on or before 7 December last year in Santa Maria, Uberaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Her body was found in an abandoned house, ‘often used by homeless people and drug users’, according to the report in Triângulo Notícias.
I don’t know what Sabrina looked like. The pictures from the report give an indication of the squalid conditions in which she was found.
Geraldine was murdered on 9 December last year in Villa de Álvarez, Colima, Mexico. She was around 25 years old, according to the report in Ulisex!Mgzn.
No specifics are given about how or why she was killed, but there were apparently ‘signs of execution’.
She is remembered fondly by her friends, including Pamela Lara, Lupita Pinzano, Martin Castellanos and Debora Lozano.
Elvira Costa Ferreira
Elvira was murdered on 2 April in Novo Maranguape, Maranguape, Ceará, Brazil.
She was stabbed to death, according to the report in TV Diário.
Her mother, who preferred to remain anonymous, is reported to have said that her daughter had been a drug user for nine years and had probably been killed because of debt.
This trans woman, referred to as S. (though given a male name in reports), was murdered on 29 May in Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico.
According to the report in Noticias Voz e Imagen (CW: graphic image), S. was working as a prostitute and was stabbed several times by her partner after an argument. She died of blood loss shortly after being taken to hospital.
Evelin was murdered earlier this year. Her body was found on 21 August in Cidade Alta, Caruaru, Pernambuco, Brazil.
According to the report in Jornal de Caruaru, she was 23 years old, homeless and a drug user.
She was shot dead for reasons unknown.