Remembering the Self-Violence on the Transgender Day of Remembrance

Published: November 16, 2010

As I enter my 30th year of life, something is happening to me that I never thought would take place: I’m getting older. The hair atop my head is thinning; the creases around my eyes are deepening, and the love handles simply won’t go away, no matter how hard I hit the gym. It’s a fact of life I never imagined I’d have to deal with because, simply put, I thought I’d be dead by now. Grim I know, but keep reading – it gets better.

November 20th is the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, which pays homage to transgender individuals around the globe who are murdered for being who they were born to be. Fourteen were murdered this year in the United States and Puerto Rico alone, including Sandy Woulard, who was murdered right here in Chicago. While I believe violence is an unbelievably important issue in the transgender community, I think it is important to broaden this commemoration to include victims of self-violence, as transgendered individuals are much more likely to die by their own hands than by another’s. Suicide is a huge issue in the trans community, and a recent survey by the Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality elucidates this more clearly, finding that 41 percent of transgender people have attempted suicide (compared to the 1.6 percent national average).

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