Australia: On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, researchers ensure Australia will finally have more names to acknowledge - - PressFrom - Australia
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Australia On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, researchers ensure Australia will finally have more names to acknowledge

07:01  20 november  2019
07:01  20 november  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Throughout the day on November 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance , Logo will share these names on the air. Below, we pay respect to these Because many states don’t include gender identity in hate-crime data—and trans victims are often mis- gendered —it’s difficult to get an accurate

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As the daylight fades at a Darlinghurst park in inner Sydney tonight, a list of names will be read out.

They are transgender Australians who have been murdered, died by suicide or from a drug overdose. The tradition of reading out these names is part of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), which is marked on November 20 each year around the world.

This is the 20th year TDOR has been observed in Sydney and in the past, the list of names commemorated at the vigil has been one of the shortest in the world.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance is an opportunity for communities to come together and remember transgender people, gender -variant individuals, and those perceived to be transgender who have been murdered because of hate. Learn more .

"Too many lives lost. Today we remember and acknowledge ." November 20 marks Trangender Day of Remembrance . Vigils and remembrance ceremonies will be held across the country to mark the Trans Day of Remembrance (using #tdor on social media), commemorating trans men and

In particular, the trans community has struggled to find an accurate number of those who have been murdered.

The international register of transgender homicides, Transgender Murder Monitor, records 3,317 names in the past decade. More than 800 of the names listed are from Brazil, but only two of the deaths on the register occurred in Australia.

While that might seem like relatively good news, researchers believe it's a dramatic underrepresentation of the true figure.

Dr Eloise Brook from the NSW Gender Centre is the one who reads the list, and she's been involved with TDOR in Sydney for five years.

"At the end of each of those years, after we've had our memorial, I've always wondered at the lack of names of our own community that we included," she said.

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"It began to seem to me that we were memorialising an empty coffin and it just didn't quite seem right."

She set out to count and name Australia's transgender dead.

The aim was to find more names to bring to this year's TDOR in Sydney, and record the process in a podcast, Counting The Dead.

From the beginning, it was much harder than she anticipated.

"I went out and started to search and found nothing," she said.

"I started off by talking to the community, I found a lead here or there, but when I dug deeper, they never seemed to reveal a name."

After a fruitless first six months, she began delving into written records.

The first was the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archive in St Kilda, Melbourne.

"Even then, we didn't find that much, I only found references to murders and deaths that I'd already known about."

What's keeping Australia's trans dead invisible?

"It's death by bureaucracy," said Dr Brook.

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Dr Andy Kaladelfos, a UNSW Criminologist who specialises in crimes against the LGBTI community, agreed.

"At the moment, all crime data is only recorded in male or female binaries," they said.

The issue is complicated by the fact that this is in accordance with the wishes of many transgender people or their loved ones.

"That may well suit some transgender people," Dr Kaladelfos explained.

"They might feel very strongly that they are male or female — they are in the binary categories."

It's a vexed issue not just for the institutions charged with recording deaths, but the community itself.

"Some people in the trans community do not want to be recorded as transgender," Dr Kaladelfos said.

Dr Kaladelfos believes the solution is better recordkeeping, despite the complexities of that task.

"I'm in favour of doing it, but I do understand very much the opposition to it," they said.

Another factor in the underreporting of transgender killings is the incorrect classification of the death itself.

It's a well-established pattern in the history of gay hate crimes, with murders erroneously recorded at the time as suicide or misadventure.

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"I would suspect that this may well have been what has happened to a great number of the deaths in [the trans] community," said Dr Kaladelfos.

Australia's overall homicide rate is low by global standards, thanks in part to gun-control laws.

But even accounting for that trend, Dr Kaladelfos is sure the existing data on trans murders is an underrepresentation, "given the extent that we know about other types of violent victimisation of trans and gender-diverse people".

"Given that we're in some of the highest brackets for sexual assault, some of the emerging evidence is coming out we're in some of the highest brackets for intimate partner violence," they said.

"It doesn't seem to make sense that there would only be two recorded violent deaths of transgender people."

'I'd hit gold'

Dr Brook didn't give up after her first foray in an archive, and eventually Dr Kaladelfos recommended another archive to her at the University of Melbourne.

Dr Brook flew to Melbourne again and learned the four small boxes she was there to explore were just weeks away from being thrown out.

"I went in and sat down and almost straight away, I realised that I'd hit gold," she said.

"I found a really well-constructed archive, It was a historical journey over about 20 years."

"Fortunately there was a number of clippings around murders that occurred during the 70s and even into the 80s."

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You can read more about the Transgender Day of Remembrance below, and find out how you can show support for the community on this day . Additionally, the week before TDOR, people and organizations around the country participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise visibility

for more information. Note that this site has stringent criteria for inclusion on their list: independent media verification is required, and it has to be a result of transphobic crime. Trans -related suicides, for example, are not included.

The first was Lisa Tane-Baker, an indigenous trans woman from New Zealand, who was murdered on a Saturday night in October 1976 in Adelaide.

The account Dr Brook found said she was dressed in a denim skirt, a black top, high heels, a brown chequered coat, with a green handbag and a silver necklace.

Lisa Tane-Baker went to the races earlier that day and put money on a horse called How Now, because she liked the name.

Her horse came in and she won $200.

Lisa went out to a local pub that night and when she left around midnight, the reports from the archive suggest she was picked up by a car.

Her body was found dumped in a driveway about half an hour east of the city the next morning — her necklace and her handbag were missing.

New names to be read out this year

Dr Brook ultimately found between 10 and 15 names she could add to this year's list.

"I think I reached a point about six months into the journey where I'd be grateful to find any names," she said.

The names she has found extend beyond the timeframe of the International Murder Monitor's 20-year scope.

Not all the new names will be read out, out of respect for the wishes of those people, or their families.

Dr Brook plans to continue her search beyond this year's memorial.

"So the reason to do this is to say to the community, 'We'll remember you'," she said.

"If you pass away for whatever reason, we'll read your name out at our memorial and you will be remembered by your community for who you were, and honoured and cherished."

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