Content warning: Contains discussion of transphobia, murder and suicide.
The LGBT+ Network at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) is marking international Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) by raising awareness of anti-transgender abuse.
TDoR is set to take place on Saturday 20 November so the LGBT+ Network is raising awareness of the issues surrounding violence and intolerance towards transgender people in our local communities, across the country and internationally.
A member of staff from UHMBT said: “It’s terrifying to think of how many of my trans siblings from across the world have been taken from us too soon. I try to not think too much about the level of violence against trans people in both the UK and worldwide because it takes such an emotional toll when it’s hard enough just to live as an out trans person day to day.
“I’ve not personally lost someone in such a violent way but I, and so many of my close friends, struggle with suicidal thoughts. I’ve had enough experience of loved ones being admitted for self-harm and mental illness and the difficulties navigating through a world so set against trans people is a big factor in these admissions. So, I take a moment to reflect and remember, and then keep moving forward for those still living.”
TDoR is observed every November in memory of the murder of Rita Hester in 1998. Rita was a highly visible member of the transgender community in Boston in the USA where she worked on education relating to transgender issues. On Saturday 28 November 1998 Rita was stabbed 20 times when she was at home in her apartment. Rita died later that day in hospital.
In 1999, one year after Rita’s murder, advocate and writer, Gwendolyn Ann Smith, coordinated a vigil in Rita’s honour. The vigil commemorated Rita and all who were tragically lost to anti-transgender violence.
The Trust’s LGBT+ Network is also sharing the fact that anti-transgender violence and abuse are on the rise in the UK, as is hate crime in general towards the LGBT+ community.
Government statistics released online in 2021, show that that crime towards trans people has risen from 1,195 in 2016/17 to 2,630 in 2020/21 – and that’s just the crimes that are actually reported to the police in England and Wales. The true numbers are likely to be much higher.
Sara Lavis, Interim Chair of the Trust’s LGBT+ Network, said: “We feel it is important to remember and mourn the loss of everyone who has died as a result of anti-transgender violence.
“We think it is deeply disturbing that transgender hate crime is on the rise in our country and want to play our part in bringing about change. As a network, we are here for all colleagues and patients who may be experiencing anti-transgender abuse and trans-phobia.
“We want everyone to feel accepted and be celebrated for who they are, as well as being free from violence and other types of abuse. Anyone experiencing abuse as a result of their identity, can come to us for advice, advocacy and emotional support.”
Aaron Cummins, Executive Sponsor of the LGBT+ Network and CEO of UHMBT, added: “Discrimination, bigotry and hatred are frequently faced by trans people – often stemming from fear and a basic misunderstanding of the transgender community. Being an ally is hugely important. We want to do all we can to help end ignorance surrounding transgender issues. As Transgender Day of Remembrance approaches, we will be thinking of those precious lives that should never have been lost.”
You can contact the UHMBT LGBT+ Network at LGBT.Network@mbht.nhs.uk
Here are some links to further information and support: