It was the autumn of 1998, late November. The previous month Matthew Shepard was found, barely alive and in a coma, having been tortured and tied to a fence near Laramie, Wyoming. The person who found the body thought at first it was a scarecrow.
Hester had just returned from entertainment engagements in Europe. She was a statuesque (over 6 feet tall and around 225 pounds) drag performer. She is said to have had an overwhelming stage presence. She was also reported to be very kind and well-liked by everyone in the community.
She was always nice to everyone. She was very, very, very liked by the whole community, so what happened to her was like a real shock.
Around 6:15pm on November 28 Rita Hester's neighbors heard loud banging coming from inside her Allston, MA apartment. One neighbor later reported that someone inside had yelled for help. Police were called and arrived around 6:30pm. They found Rita's lifeless body in the apartment. It had multiple stab wounds.
Rita was last seen alive...other than by the killer or killers...as she left the Silhouette Lounge in Allston. Witnesses say two men followed her out of the club.
Police say there were no signs of forced entry, so they suspected that Rita must have known her killer. Fourteen years later we have seen no progress in solving the crime, though it was reopened for a while in 2006 at the request of Rita's mother.
Members of Boston's LGBT community had held a mostly spontaneous vigil for Matthew Shepard on Boston Commons, but there was little attention given to Hester's murder. So the transgender people of Boston became a community and crested there own event. A speak-out and candlelight vigil was organized which drew around 200 transpeople and allies, followed by by a solemn procession from the Model Cafe in Allston to Hester's apartment building.
Local media outlets such as the Boston Herald, the Globe and Bay windows referred to Rita as a "man leading a double life" rather than a transgender woman.
We were a curiosity and considered to be somewhat less than fully human by a lot of people.
--event organizer Nancy Nangeroni
Nancy is available here: Gender Talk Radio.
The violence against transgender people is typically horrific. It’s possessed of a deranged kind of intensity, often. … These are not dispassionate shootings. These are up close and personal, and they’re done as if the perpetrator wanted to stamp out the very existence of that person.
Hester's death instigated the Remembering our Dead project and the first Transgender Day of Remembrance, which took place in San Francisco in 1999. Both were organized by Gwendolyn Ann Smith. GLAAD has more information available.
Traditionally besides giving members of the community a chance to speak out, which I encourage you to do in the comments, TDOR concludes with a reading of the names, if they are known, of those who have been murdered since the last TDOR. TDOR has recognized 327 people murdered in the US alone…with an additional 300+ from other countries. Other organizations the world over have taken up the torch, including Group Activiste Trans in Paris, the Human Rights Commission of Tel Aviv, Diritti in Movimiento in Italy, and Europe's TGEU.
TGEU reports 265 murders in the 12 months from November 15, 2011 to November 14, 2012. 126 of those murders were in Brazil, where murder of transwomen seems to be a sport. 48 murders of transpeople were committed in Mexico and 15 in the United States. Central and South America are the once again the hotbeds with Venezuela having 9, Honduras 8, Columbia, 6, Uruguay 6, and Guatemala 5. India leads Asia with 6 with Pakistan close behind at 5. Turkey leads Europe with 5. 80% of the murders of transpeople since 2009 have been in Central and South America. TGEU has been collecting their grim statistics since 2008. They count 1083 murders since January of that year.
Yet, we know, even these high numbers are only a fraction of the real figures; the truth is much worse.
These are only the reported cases, which could be found through internet research. In most countries, data on murdered trans people are not systematically produced and it is impossible to estimate the numbers of unreported cases.
Without further ado, here is the TDOR list for 2011-12, as amended to include some names which were omitted. In the end I have a list of 71 individuals, of whom 18 are Americans, if that makes a difference to you (as apparently it did to The Advocate, who even got the number wrong, failing to include Puerto Rico as part of the US).
The list is still being updated today. Some of the links below go to articles I have written which discuss the murders.
(Please note that in some parts of the world, it is typical to identify with only one name.)
Sonia Masi, Gujarat, India, November 24, 2011, death by gunshot
Gardenia, Campina, Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 25, 2011, stoned to death
Brenting Dolliole, 22, New Orleans, LA, November 26, 2011, died of severe head trauma.
Suely Scalia, Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil, December 3. 2011, beaten to death
Pascual Ake Beh, Almoloya, Mexico, December 4, 2011, shot in the head
Erica Hernandez, 26, Detroit, MI, December 17, 2011, stabbed to death
Bruninha, 19, R. Bandeirantes Apucarana, PR, Brazil, December 24, 2011, dead of multiple machete blows to the chest and neck
Dee Dee Pearson, 31, Kansas City, MO, December 24, 2012, shot to death
--------This is not on the official list. The link is to my coverage of a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.
Mona, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, December 27, 2011, dead of gunshots to the foot and back
Githe Goins, 23, New Orleans, LA, December 30, 2011, strangled
Popinha, 25, Campos dos Goytacazes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, January 1, 2012, shot twice in the back
Unidentified, Manaus, Amonas, Brazil, January 17, 2012, strangled
Crain Conaway, 47, Oceanside CA, January 17, 2012, trauma to the body
Brilli, 49, San Felix, Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela, January 22, 2012
Guilherme Augusto de Souza, 16, Sumarem, Sao Paulo, Brazil, January 23, 2012, shot 13 times
Sabrina, Redemption, Sao Paulo, Brazil, January 25, 2012, shot to death from very close range
Mateo Vicente, 21, Tondo, Manila, Philippines, January 25, 2012, blunt force trauma to the head, dumped on sidewalk
Maicon Roux, Indaial, 25, Santa Catarina, Brazil, January 25, 2012, shot in the arm, face and chest
Paola Cristiano, 28, Maceio, Alagoas, Brazil. January 30, 2012, shot 7 times to the head, neck, and back
Deoni Jones, 23, Baltimore, MD, February 2, 2012, shot to death
Carla, 51, Campo Mourao, Parana, Brazil, March 2, 2012, shot to death
Junior Ricardo de Jesus, Ituiutaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil, March 2012. The skeleton was found with bullet fragments near the body.
Agnes Torres Sulca, Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico, March 10, 2012, body found with neck wounds, burned, tortured, and thrown in a ditch
Chiquinha, Bandeirantes, 35, Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 13, 2012 stoned and beaten to death
Soraya, 39, Olivenza, Alagoas, Brazil, March 13, 2012, body found gagged, anally raped by pieces of wood, and penis burned with alcohol
Rosita Hidalgo, Miami Beach, FL, March 15, 2012, gagged, with multiple stab wounds and her neck slit
David William de Oliveira Candido, 16, Londrina, Parana, Brazil, March 22, 2012, of severe head and neck trauma
Coko WIlliams, 35, Detroit, MI, April 4, 2012, shot to death
Tyrell Jackson, 23, Riviera Beach, FL, April 4, 2012, shot to death
Menakshiammal, Krishnagiri, India, April 12, 2012, burned and throat slit
Paige Clay, 23, Chicago, IL, April 16, 2012, shot in the face
Rebekah, Maceio, Alagoas, Brazil, April 22, 2012, shot in the back of the head
Leandro, Eduardo Campos Ferreira, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, April 26, 2012, shot 11 times
Brandy Martell, 37, Oakland, CA, April 29, 2012, shot to death
Unidentified, Hope, Paraiba, Brazil, May 10, 2012, shot to death
Anil Aayiramthengu, Thankassery, India, May 10, 2012, throat slit and abdominal injuries
Lorena Escalera, Brooklyn, NY, May 11, 2012, arson
Chrissie Azzopardi, 22, Finsbury Park, London, UK, June 4, 2012, cause of death unlisted
Thapelo Makutle, Kuruman, South Africa, June 9, 2012, throat cut, partially decapitated, with genitals stuffed in his mouth
William Geovanni Aguilar Perez, Villanueva, Guatemala, June 17, 2012, shot to death
Alison, Villanueva, Guatemala, June 17, 2012, shot to death
Unidentified, Pinhais, Curitiba, Parana, Brazil, June 26, 2012, burned to death
Unidentified, Pinhais, Parana, Brazil, June 27, 2012, burned to death
Jeimy Tamara Perez, Guatemala City, Guatemala, June 28, 2012, shot to death
Camila de Mink, 40, Bauru, Sao Paulo, June 30, 2012, stabbed to death
Tracey Johnson, Baltimore, MD, July 5, 2012, multiple gun shot wounds
Secil Anne, Antalya, Turkey, July 10, 2012, throat cut, face slashed
Sapphire, 23, Bauru, Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 31, 2012, shot multiple times in the chest, leg, and head
Barbarita, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, August 3, 2012, shot in the face and head
Tania, Sincelejo, Sucre, Colombia, August 4, 2012, shot in the head
Vanderson Vegas Silva, Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 5, 2012, dragged two blocks by a car
Tiffany Gooden, 19, Chicago, IL, August 14, 2012, stabbed multiple times
Sirena Paola, 44, La Guajira, Maicao, Colombia, August 11, 2012, head trauma
Unidentified, 30, Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 15, 2012, shot to death
Unidentified, 24, Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 15, 2012, shot to death
Laryssa Silveira, Piracicaba, Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 17, 2012, shot multiple times in the chest and face, body dumped by the side of the road
Tiago da Silva Oliveira, Pernambucho, Brazil, August 19, 2012, shot to death
Robson Franco Pereira, campina, Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 24, 2012, shot in the arm and face
Deja Jones. Miami, FL, August 26, 2012, shot to death
Unidentified, Clementina, Brazil, August 29, 2012, beaten repeatedly in the head with a shovel
Kendall Hampton, 26, Cincinnati, OH, August 29, 2012, shot to death
Kyra (Cruz) Cordova, Philadelphia, PA, September 3, 2012, shot in the head
Victoria, Sao Paulo, Brazil, September 16, 2012, mutilated body (genitals and an ear removed) thrown in a dumpster
Unidentified, Sao Paolo, Brazil, September 21, 2012, body found with hands and feet tied, with a neck injury, wrapped in a sheet and burned
January Marie Lapuz, 26, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada, September 29, 2012, stabbed to death
Malena Suarez, Carolina, Puerto Rico, US, October, 2012, multiple stab wounds
--------This is not on the official list. The link is to my coverage.
Janette Tovar, 43, Dallas, TX, October 16, 2012, blunt force head trauma from domestic assault
--------This is not on the official list. The story is provided by Monica Roberts at the TransGriot link provided.
Madona, Aracaju, Brazil, October 19, 2012, stoned to death
Serap Guneser, 25, Antalya, Turkey, October 24, 2012, throat slit. When police arrived at the crime scene, they pepper-sprayed Serap's friends, who were attemting to staunch the bleeding and delayed proceeding to the hospital. Serap died en route from loss of blood.
--------This is not on the official list. The story is provided by the yahoo group transgender news.
Cassandra, Rouen, France, November 4, 2012, asphyxiated, with body partially burned after death
Occasionally a perpetrator is arrested, but it is relatively rare. Even rarer is the conviction of that perpetrator.
Past idea for commemorating the day: Made for Flight
Nobody Did It: May brought us a verdict in the trial in re: the 2010 murder of Victoria Carmen White of Maplewood, NJ.
Death Threats in Washington, DC, when Latino LGBT center, Casa Ruby, is opened by transwoman.
From last week: Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!