Tillerson: Rights of Transgender People 'Should be Respected,' Advanced

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson marked the International Transgender Day of Remembrance by stressing that “the United States honors the memory of the many transgender individuals who have lost their lives to acts of violence.”

The annual observance centers around a list compiled from around the world of transgender individuals who were shot, stabbed, beaten to death, strangled, tortured, dismembered and more as a result of their gender identity.

“Transgender individuals and their advocates, along with lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex persons, are facing increasing physical attacks and arbitrary arrests in many parts of the world. Often these attacks are perpetrated by government officials, undermining the rule of law,” Tillerson said in a statement released by the State Department.

“Transgender persons should not be subjected to violence or discrimination, and the human rights they share with all persons should be respected,” he added. “On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, the United States remains committed to advancing the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons. These principles are inherent in our own Constitution and drive the diplomacy of the United States.”

The Human Rights Campaign and the Trans People of Color Coalition today released a new report on violence against transgender people in America, which details the stories of 25 transgender individuals killed in America since the start of the year. Eighty-four percent of those killed were people of color, and 80 percent were post-transition women (who are four times more likely to be murdered in the U.S. than women in the general population). More than three-quarters of the victims were under age 35.

“Across the United States, but especially in the South, where most of the victims resided, transphobia, homophobia, sexism, racism and poverty heighten the vulnerability of transgender people from an early age,” the report states.

The report called for better data collection and reporting on crimes against transgender individuals, passing nondiscrimination protections, making schools safer for transgender youths, developing better employment opportunities, and better training law enforcement on dealing with the transgender community.

“The epidemic of violence against transgender people is an urgent crisis that demands the nation’s immediate attention,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “The unique and tragic stories featured in this report reflect the obstacles that many transgender Americans — especially trans women of color — face in their daily lives. It is crucial that we know these stories in order to combat the transphobia, misogyny and racism fueling this violence so that we can end this epidemic before it takes any more lives.”