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TDoR 2017: Say their names. Read their stories. Remember them

Friday 24th November, 2017

The Bournemouth TDoR 2017 vigil
The Bournemouth TDoR 2017 vigil.

I've done a lot of things since I came out in 2001, but volunteering to collate the data for the Trans Day of Remembrance vigil in Bournemouth (see Remembering Our Dead never gets any easier) this year was definitely one of the hardest.

Remembering Our Dead never gets any easier

Between all of the tears (and there were many) one thing that struck me was that we didn't have a particularly good picture of just who we have lost — their lives were literally often reduced to just a few words on a page, and in many cases we don't even have a name.

With the official list collated by Transgender Europe not coming out until a few days before the event there also wasn't really time to find much more out. Worse, once we did have the official list the data available was quite sketchy or only partially translated from the original news reports, and there were no photos which can give us a feel for who they were.

Taken together this can make it hard to connect with the trans people we've lost, and I think we owe it to them to do better, somehow.

For the Bournemouth vigil we wanted to give people a way to connect directly with as many of the victims as we could. The idea (not one I can take credit for — it came from Revd. Dwayne Morgan, the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Bournemouth* ) was to print a laminated A4 sheet for each, and light a candle for them at the vigil. Getting all of that together takes time, so I volunteered to start collecting data a little earlier by browsing blogs and a handful of news sites.

* The Metropolitan Community Church of Bournemouth has since been renamed to Inclusive Community Church.

Preparing memorial cards
Preparing memorial cards for the Bournemouth TDoR 2017 vigil.

Just doing that unearthed a lot of information — including photos of many of those we had lost — which were duly entered into a spreadsheet. Once the official list arrived I tried to merge that in it into a form suitable for what we wanted to do for our vigil - a messy process which took several days of editing and reformatting.

While doing so I found that many of the descriptions in the official list didn't read particularly clearly (many were translated from news reports in various languages) so I ended up spending lots of time rewording them and cross-referring to the original news sources (Google Translate was helpful here) where those could be found.

It was grim work, and suffice it to say I now have a fairly good idea which search terms to use for the murders of trans people in various languages, and which sites to look at.

For many victims we didn't have a photo, or even in many cases a name
For many victims we didn't have a photo, or even in many cases a name.

But three fraught days later it was done. By then we had discovered quite a bit of additional data (including over 100 photos and details of 9 victims who were not recorded in the official list), and started the process of editing, printing, laminating and collating…all 334 times over. It took a while, but eventually we got there.

Memorial cards
On the night of the vigil we laid out the memorial cards on the ground.

On the night of the vigil we laid out the pages in ten rows, grouped into five rows of two so that people could walk among them. As the names were read, candles were lit. It was powerful.

Maybe it was the fact that this year we had a P.A. system, or maybe it was all of the candles and the pages memorialising the victims — but a lot of passers-by stopped to look…to read…to cry...and even to pray.

What will I think be my most lasting memory of the evening is of a passer-by who was walking by when she heard us reading their names and how they had died. She came over, knelt down, crossed herself, read about some of the victims and prayed earnestly before walking away. It was such a simple gesture, but (to me at least) a beautiful one.

To her and the many cis (i.e. non-trans) folks who took part, thank you for caring. Many trans people have a really rough time, and knowing that others care enough to come along and make such a simple gesture really helps.

TDoR is now past us this year, but the killings never seem to stop so we'll be doing it all again next year. In the meantime, rather than let the everything we learnt about those we have lost in the past year fade into obscurity it seems appropriate to memorialise them all somewhere — and here is as good a place as any.

In the pages linked below I hope you'll learn a little about the trans people I know of who were killed between 1st October 2016 and 30th September 2017 (the 334 we commemorated on the night, plus those identified since).

Although we we know a little bit about some of them, sadly we know nothing about many — but I hope that others might be able to fill in some of those gaps in time.

I hope you'll be able to empathise with and understand them and the lives they tried to make the most of. Well over 100 of the entries have photos, and the one thought I can't shake when I look at them is just how young most of them are.

I can't promise is that reading what happened to them is likely to be an easy process — it certainly hasn't been for me.

Despite that, I'm glad I took the time to learn a little about them.


Note that in addition to the victims identified in the TGEU TDoR 2017 list, the pages linked above also contain details of:

Dates of death have been corrected (using original news reports) for:

In addition, names (e.g. “Eyelen” should be Ayelén Gómez) and narratives have been corrected and expanded upon using original sources where possible and the following unidentified victims identified:

If anyone has details to add, please let me know — I'll be happy to update the posts above with any additional details you can share.

No matter who they were, we mourn and miss every single one of them.

Raw data for TDoR 2017 can be downloaded from tdor.translivesmatter.info.

TDoR 2017 victims
Just some of the trans people lost to violence during the period covered by TDoR 2017.

A final thought: while compiling all of this information, it struck me that a blog site like Medium really wasn't the ideal way to present individual biographies, and that a dedicated database driven site where contributors could upload/edit individual entries independently would probably work much better.*

Update: A site for this purpose](https://tdor.translivesmatter.info) has now been developed:

If you wish to contribute to this effort please let me know.

Follow-up blogpost:

TDoR 2018: Say their names. Learn their stories. Remember them

About The Author

Anna-Jayne Metcalfe is a software engineer who volunteers to help research, collate and share data on violence against trans people. This blogpost was originally published by Anna on Medium.

Posted by annajayne at 9:00am | Get Link

Trigger warning

This site contains reports of violence against transgender people, and links to detailed reports which contain graphic imagery.

Please continue with caution.


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