Tomorrow in Brazil, groups that advocate for the rights of transgender women and men will gather for 41 actions in 22 states during the National Day of Transgender Visibility. I’m glad to see rights groups in Brazil drawing attention to this issue, especially since Brazil has the highest recorded murder rate for trans people in the world. According to the Latin American Center on Sexuality and Human Rights (CLAM), “Data collected by Grupo Gay da Bahia show that between 1980 and 2011, 962 trans people were killed in Brazil, an average of one homicide every 10 days.”
Above is a 2009 map produced as part of the Trans Murder Monitoring project by Trans Respect vs Transphobia – click through for more years, explanation of process, and hi res copies of the map. This visual representation shows a few important things: the rate of murder of trans women and men in Brazil is really high (more than 68 reported deaths) and there isn’t a lot of data for reporting on this kind of violence in the majority of countries.
Violence against trans people does not get as much coverage as other hate crimes, but its a very real problem in the world, and one that needs to be explicitly included in both the feminist and gay rights analyses of violence against women, gays, and lesbians. Women’s groups rarely highlight violence against women who are transgender in their speak-outs about violence against women; as the LGBT movement grows, the experiences of LGB people often overshadow the experiences of trans women and men.
The news of brutal murder of Uganda gay rights activist David Kato this week, as I wrote yesterday, is a lightning rod for human rights activists – as it should be. We should be heartsick over the violence that gay rights activists are facing in Uganda and it is good to see many organizations, even groups whose primary focus is not on LGB rights, take a stand and raise their voices in protest.
However, it is also vital that this attention and outrage also be extended to other instances of violence. As a good example of this kind of action, the DC Trans Coalition held a rally yesterday to protest the ongoing violence that the de facto Honduran government has enacted against LGBT activists over the past year. The vast majority of the victims of this violence – the total death toll reached 17 in December – have been transgender women. In order to truly attain human rights, our movements much push for inclusivity and ally ourselves with groups experiencing similar kinds of violence in disparate parts of the world.