Thursday 20-11-2014 - 22:47
Today at NUS we’re joining LGBT and ally communities around the world marking Transgender Remembrance Day. This annual day of commemoration started back in the late 1990s in America to honour Rita Hester, an African American trans woman who was brutally murdered, simply because she was trans. More than a decade on and we’re memorialising all of those who’ve lost their lives due to violent anti-trans hatred, bigotry and intolerance.
Today we remember Rita. We remember Sonia Burgess, a leading human rights and immigration lawyer. We remember Lucy Meadows, a primary school teacher who took her own life after being outed and humiliated by the British press. We remember Angie Zapata, the first murder of a trans person to be deemed a hate crime in the USA in a historical ruling. We remember Brandon Teena, a young trans man who was raped and murdered and whose story inspired the Oscar-winning film Boys Don’t Cry. We remember Gwen Araujo, whose murderers tried to use the hideous “trans panic” defence to justify their brutality. And we remember all those whose names we don’t know, whose stories we haven’t heard, because we know millions have died across the world without the dignity, recognition or justice they deserve.
While times may be changing for trans people, things aren’t moving quickly enough and we need to fight to make our campuses and our society safer and more inclusive for trans people. This is especially true for trans people of colour who are disproportionately affected by attacks and violence across the world, which we absolutely condemn.
Here in the UK and at NUS, we’re happy to have started working with Stonewall, who have finally included trans rights in their work and objectives. But we still have a long way to go: a report released yesterday by Pace, an LGBT charity who worked in partnership with Brunel University, the University of Worcester, and London South Bank University, revealed that 48 per cent of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide, and 30 per cent said they had done so in the past year. This compares to 6 per cent of all 16- to 24-year-olds in the UK. And many more trans people had considered suicide, at a staggering 59 per cent. This is devastating and completely unacceptable, and proves that our society continues to ostracise and exclude trans people, sometimes at the cost of their lives.
So please take a moment today to consider how we can collectively make our communities and our campuses more inclusive of trans people and people of all genders. And take a moment to remember all those whose lives have been lost to hate, and celebrate the contributions that trans people have made to our society and our world.
Watch this space for NUS’ first trans conference, which will be coming up early next year.