A candle flame in the darkness

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we mark the lives and deaths of trans people who have been murdered in the past year. At least 46 trans and gender-nonconforming people were killed this year in the US, making 2021 the second year in a row to become the deadliest year on record. This is an issue not only of gender, but of race: 29 victims this year were Black, and 8 were Latinx. Two-thirds of the dead since 2013 have been Black women.

Trans people are extraordinary vulnerable in our society. Trans individuals are vastly more likely to experience addiction, to have depression or anxiety as a direct result of stigma, or to die by suicide.

We count the murdered year by year, but they are more than numbers in a grim tally. Each of these people had favorite meals, and embarrassing childhood memories, and minor, everyday superpowers. They had people who loved them and people whom they loved. They had moments of grace.

They were as alive as we, the living, and they died in violence; each death an act in a prolonged, distributed campaign of terror against the trans community. This violence is supported and enabled by anti-trans rhetoric, and by acts of transphobia not only large but small. Hate crimes do not happen in isolation: violent bigots are the children of nonviolent bigots. They grow up cradled in hate disguised as values; hate speech disguised as “just a joke.” We have a responsibility, to the murdered and to the living, to insist on a better world.

In 2021, the names of the dead:

Tyianna Alexander, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, siblings Jeffrey “JJ” Bright and Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond Kyree Sanders, Rayanna Pardo, Jaida Peterson, Dominique Lucious, Remy Fennell, Tiara Banks, Natalia Smut, Iris Santos, Tiffany Thomas, Keri Washington, Jahaira DeAlto, Whispering Wind Bear Spirit, Sophie Vásquez, Danika “Danny” Henson, Serenity Hollis, Oliver “Ollie” Taylor, Thomas Hardin, Poe Black, EJ Boykin, Taya Ashton, Shai Vanderpump, Tierramarie Lewis, Miss CoCo, Pooh Johnson, Disaya Monaee, Briana Hamilton, Kiér Laprí Kartier, Mel Groves, Royal Poetical Starz, Zoella “Zoey” Rose Martinez, Jo Acker, Jessi Hart, Rikkey Outumuro, Marquiisha Lawrence, and Jenny De Leon.