November 20, 2016 at 11:53 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Activists around the world mark Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance, Tel Aviv, gay news, Washington Blade

The Tel Aviv Gay Center in Israel hosted a Transgender Day of Remembrance commemoration on Nov. 20, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Advocates around the world marked the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance this weekend with commemorations, vigils and other events.

More than 200 people gathered inside the auditorium of the Tel Aviv Gay Center in Israel on Sunday to honor those who have lost their lives to anti-trans violence.

The names and pictures of trans victims of violence flashed onto a screen as trans Israelis from religious backgrounds spoke. Members of the Israeli Defense Forces who were wearing their uniforms were among those who attended the event.

“Everything we do is a small step against transphobia,” said Stephanie Sharon, a trans woman who spoke about a friend who took her own life.

Members of the Thai Transgender Alliance on Sunday planted a tree in Bangkok in honor of victims of anti-trans violence and held a candlelight vigil at their offices. Authorities in the Australian Capital Territory illuminated a bridge in pink, white and blue — the colors of the trans Pride flag — to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The African Queer Initiative Network on Sunday held a social media hangout on trans-specific issues.

“All we ask for is acceptance and validation for who we are,” tweeted Mim Doorjean of Mauritius, an island country that is located in the Indian Ocean.

London and other cities in the U.K. held Transgender Day of Remembrance events and flew the trans Pride flag above their respective Council and City Halls. A trans rights march took place in the Italian city of Turin on Saturday.

The Metropolitan Community Church of Washington hosted D.C.’s annual Transgender Day of Remembrance commemoration on Sunday. Nearly two dozen advocates gathered in front of the Columbia Heights Metro station on Nov. 17 for the third annual Transgender Day of Action.

John Kerry: Anti-trans violence ‘a global challenge’

Gwendolyn Ann Smith organized the first Transgender Day of Remembrance as a way to honor Rita Hester, a trans woman murdered inside her Boston apartment in 1998.

Transgender Europe and Transrespect Versus Transphobia Worldwide note that 295 trans and gender-variant people in 33 countries were reported killed over the last year. These include Hande Kader, a 23-year-old trans activist and sex worker who was murdered in Istanbul in August.

Alisha, a trans activist in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, was shot seven times in May. Advocates maintain she died because staff at a local hospital did not properly treat her.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights notes 238 trans or gender non-conforming people have been reported killed in the Western Hemisphere over the last year.

Statistics indicate 123 trans or gender non-conforming Brazilians have been murdered in Brazil. Deeniquia Dodds, a trans woman of color who was shot in the neck in Northeast D.C. in July, is among the 23 trans people who have been killed in the U.S. over the last year.

The D.C.-based Organization of American States created the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 1959 as a way to promote human rights in the Western Hemisphere.

“The IACHR urges the member states of the Organization of American States to adopt and expand measures that make it possible to investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible for such crimes and provide full reparation to the victims and their family members,” said the commission in a statement that acknowledged the Transgender Day of Remembrance. “These measures should be designed to combat impunity, which should include eliminating prejudice in the investigations as well as taking a differentiated approach to those processes.”

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday expressed a similar sentiment in his statement on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

“Transgender persons around the world are targeted by rising levels of violence fueled by hatred and bigotry,” he said. “This is a global challenge and we all must do more to protect transgender persons on the basis of equality and dignity.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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