AUSTIN (KXAN) — Many will remember the year 2020 for a litany of unfortunate milestones, including that it’s reported as the deadliest for violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people in the country’s history.
A report released this week by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation detailed the violent deaths of 37 people so far this year, which is more than any other since the organization began tracking this data in 2013. For that reason, Nov. 20 has taken on much more significance to raise awareness and remember the lives lost on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The day is intended as a chance each year to honor the people killed by anti-transgender violence and celebrate the community members still living.
Several advocacy groups in Texas announced they are holding a virtual event Friday at 6 p.m. to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance. According to a Facebook event page, those organizations include The Mahogany Project, Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, Black Trans Leadership of Austin, Save Our Sisters United and Transgender Education Network of Texas.
The organizers wrote on Facebook, “Violence against the transgender and gender non-conforming community is on the rise and it’s imperative that we bring awareness about this to our community, honor the lives lost this past year and previous years, and celebrate our community’s courage to live as our authentic selves.”
According to the HRC report, Merci Mack of Texas is among the 37 known transgender and gender non-conforming people killed this year. News reports state that someone shot and killed Mack in a Dallas parking lot on June 30.
In a statement posted online after her death, Tori Cooper, the HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, wrote, “Another Black transgender woman has had her life stolen from her. We cannot become numb to the fact that our community has learned of more killings of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the past few weeks than HRC has ever tracked in the past seven years. Her friends say that Merci Mack was a young, upbeat soul who deserved to experience a full life. HRC is mourning with Merci’s loved ones and are calling for a full, thorough investigation into her death.”
Many supporters of the LGBTQ community are hoping elected leaders will now prioritize enacting more protections for them given the violence, discrimination and racism.
During his victory speech earlier this month, Joe Biden became the first president-elect to specifically thank transgender people for their support during the election. On Friday both he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris released statements on social media recognizing Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The Texas Democratic Party also posted a tweet Friday stating, “Today, we honor the memories of those we lost & recommit ourselves to ending the epidemic of anti-trans violence.”
The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) published a stylebook online to help promote fair, accurate and inclusive coverage of LGBTQ people.
Guidance from NLGJA states, “Transgender people identify as a gender that is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.” Additionally, the term “transgender” refers to “individuals whose gender identity and/or expression may not match their physical, sexual characteristics or sex assigned at birth.”
Meanwhile, NLGJA defines gender non-conforming as “when a gender identity or expression does not necessarily conform to the traditional view of two genders.”