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As Transgender Awareness Week continues, to be capped by Transgender Day of Remembrance November 20, figures released by Transrespect Versus Transphobia Worldwide show the shocking level of violence faced by trans people globally.
The group's researchers documented 350 homicides of trans and gender-diverse people around the world from October 1, 2019, through September 30 of this year. That's a 6 percent increase from the same period a year earlier, and the researchers have recorded 3,664 homicides since the effort began in 2008. The yearly total has gradually increased since then.
And the numbers are likely just a fraction of those killed, as many victims are misgendered by police, media, or families, or their deaths not reported at all. "It is not possible to estimate the number of unreported cases," notes a press release from Transrespect Versus Transphobia.
Trans women or those who identify as transfeminine made up 98 percent of the victims in the 2020 report. Eighty-two percent of the deaths were in Central or South America, and 43 percent in one country in that region, Brazil. Sixty-two percent of those killed were known to be sex workers. People of color and migrants were at great risk, with 79 percent of U.S. victims being people of color and half of those killed in Europe being migrants. The average age of victims was 31, and the youngest was 15.
"Behind the statistical representation of numbers and percentages, there are people whose lives we value and who we, as societies, failed to protect," the release says. The group blames social stigma and criminalization of sex work for exposing trans sex workers to exploitation and violence, while adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has put the lives of trans people at even greater risk, especially the young, the poor, sex workers, migrants, and people of color. Racism and police brutality are contributing factors as well.
"At the same time, those groups are repeatedly silenced and underrepresented within our communities and societies," the release concludes. "Although COVID-19 affects us all, social differences and inequalities are deepened by the pandemic, emphasising gaps in lack of legislation and systemic protection of trans and gender-diverse people."