Written by Ailish Brennan.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is an annual day to mourn and honour transgender people who’s lives have been lost the hands of anti-trans violence. Transmisogyny is very much alive as a mainstream idea, transmysoginistic views are often casually expressed by public figures, politicians, and “good-faith” actors describing themselves as being “gender critical” and painting a picture that they are simply asking honest questions.
However, these views do represent and contribute more sinister and violent forms of transmisogyny. It seems every passing year goes on record as being the most violent year for transgender people, in particular in the United States, where many organizations including Human Rights Campaign collect data. In Germany, where I live, while data on transgender people specifically is difficult to find, reported attacks on LGBTQ+ people have been following a similar upward trend. Per Transgender Europe (TGEU), between October 2019 and September 2020 there have been 350 murders of transgender and gender-diverse people worldwide – a figure which does not account for a massive amount of unreported murders and a figure which is rising year-on-year.
This threat of violence and passive discrimination experienced push transgender people to unsuitable living situations and prevent their access to significant sections of society, all of which could be described as forms of institutional violence leading to harms and to deaths not accounted for in these violent murder statistics.
While it is hard to verify with accurate and significant data, it is widely reported and noted that transgender people are more likely to use drugs than their cisgender peers. In terms of the HIV response, transgender people, along with intersex people, are recognized as Inadequately Served Populations, or Key Affected Populations, meaning they have significantly worse health outcomes as a result of their gender identity. All of this points to transgender people experiencing significant harm related to their use of drugs.
It is vital, if we are to consider Full Spectrum Harm Reduction, we continuously work to fight discrimination against transgender people, to dismiss attitudes which directly lead to violence against transgender people, and work to ensure transgender people are not the victims of violence of any form. In order to reduce the harms associated with transgender people’s drug use we need to see better protections in place in society with the aiming reducing violence against transgender people, as well as gender-based violence as a whole. We must work to ensure drug-related and HIV services are welcoming and accessible to transgender people who use drugs in order to prevent further ostracization. We must work to ensure transgender people are welcome and valued members of our communities.
The most effective way we can mourn and honour the murder of transgender people is to ensure we are creating a safe environment and society for our transgender community members.