We don't know much about many of those trans people murdered globally. For many there is limited information in the public record other than the circumstances of their death. This was true from the start, when activists in the late 90s began to collate information on trans killings from news clippings — it was an effort which came out of the information available being incomplete and typically reported from an anti-trans perspective by default.
Among the selection that are identifiable via this approach, the majority of those murdered globally are sex workers both in the Global South where transfemicides are recorded at much much higher rates and in the so-called "Western World", where murder rates are much lower as a cause of death, but sex work and migrant or racialised oppression is a frequently correlated factor of marginalisation.
The work of trying to remember murdered trans people has from its origins been a struggle to make trans lives matter and to make a problem of our trans siblings' absence. It was also a struggle against the ways that we are remembered by cis people when we die — a “John Doe” found dead in woman's clothes, funerals where trans people’s biological families reclaim their body after abandoning them in life, cut her hair and bury her in a suit, or buried dead trans men as women, doing one last act of violence erasing their beautiful trans lives from our history.
Unofficially, Trans Day of Remembrance is also a day when we remember our friends who have died for other reasons in many cases too, not from murder but in circumstances often aggravated by medical neglect, isolation, stigma and social death.
I have long been uncomfortable with trans day of remembrance and I don’t really want to become comfortable with it. We all deserve to live good, fulfilling lives. I feel especially uncomfortable with the transformation of the event into an increasingly corporate "allyship" event, stripped of its historical purpose as a community memorial, upholding the value of those among us who have had literally everything they have taken forcefully from them. Trans Day Of Remembrance should on some level be uncomfortable for everyone for as long as it continues to be necessary.
Thumb image by Mike Labrum on Unsplash