The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday September 20th

Transgender Day of Remembrance honors 81 killed this year

A group of on lookers pay their respects to those who have been persecuted because of their gender on Transgender Remembrance day, Wednesday afternoon in the Pit.
Buy Photos A group of on lookers pay their respects to those who have been persecuted because of their gender on Transgender Remembrance day, Wednesday afternoon in the Pit.

The annual day of remembrance honors Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in Massachusetts on Nov. 28, 1998. Her murder has yet to be solved. The annual day of remembrance continues to honor the lives of the countless transgender people who have been murdered across the world.

Terri Phoenix, director of the center, said the event in the Pit was held to raise awareness about gender identity- and gender expression-based violence.

“Based on information from the Transgender Day of Remembrance page, tdor.org, we made a placard for each of the names of the individuals who were murdered due to gender-identity or gender-expression, and we called their names and laid a rose on the placard,” Phoenix said.

These cards listed 81 transgender people who have been murdered since Nov. 21, 2013 — with names and photographs, if available, and the way they were murdered.

Phoenix hoped the event would raise awareness about the current gender binary system and the pain that it causes.

“In this case (the gender binary system) led to actual murder, very violent murders if you read some of the placards. But there is a level of violence that happens at a lesser degree every day as we try to make people conform to the norms of what is expected for males or for females.” Phoenix said.

Senior Christopher Gremillion said the most eye-opening part of the event was reading about the victims who could not be identified.

“At least with the people that you had their names, there was somebody that could name them, somebody who was family or something like that,” Gremillion said.

“They know what happened to their family member, whereas the unknown people, they might think that this person is coming back some day. I think that’s the hardest part.”

Phoenix said some countries have higher degrees of reporting structures, which more accurately report the number of gender-based murders that take place.

“(The placards) represent just a small fraction of the individuals who were probably murdered in the past year.” Phoenix said, “Because of the reporting structures, there’s probably many, many more people who have experienced violence and/or been murdered because of their gender-identity or gender-expressions. Even though these are 81 names, it’s still just a small percentage of what probably has happened.”

Graduate student Kai Ewing said the entire event was moving.

“Letting people read, having people come through and see the stories of the people who have died due to gender-based violence is really important so people can see there are 16-year-olds who have been stabbed and thrown in a river,” Ewing said.“That’s not okay.”

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