LONDON, Nov 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - November 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance, when people around the world remember those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence.
Activists from Turkey, India, the United States, Ivory Coast and Serbia share their thoughts on what the day means to them, and the violence transgender people face in their country.
TAMIL NADU, INDIA - KALKI SUBRAMANIAM
A friend of mine called Mariya, from Kerala, was murdered by one of her friends for no specific reason.
Many transgender people have committed suicide, including my best friend Sowmya from Chennai. She was only 26. She took her life because of a lack of support from her parents, because she was rejected by her boyfriend and because she had no livelihood.
When I was a teenager some of my friends who were transgender were raped. Also, senior transgender people often force other transgenders to do sex work.
I think one of the biggest problems for transgender people in India is family rejection, as well as a lack of opportunities, discrimination, and injustice at all levels.
In April last year, the Supreme Court finally gave transgender people legal recognition. Education and employment opportunities seem to be on the rise. There's definitely hope. But the violence and continual acts of injustice have to stop.
ANKARA, TURKEY - BIHTER
When I was waiting for my friend at night on a street close to my house, a black car approached at high speed. A man got out and asked me for money. I refused, and he grabbed my collar and threatened me, saying "I will kill you."
I could not escape. He grabbed my hair. He and other people from the car began to assault me. When they were about to stab me in the head with a butcher's knife, I covered my head with my hand and was severely injured.
Bystanders called the police and ambulance. The police came immediately because the police station was very close. They did not remove the people around, and did not even approach me. I got good help from the people around me.
I was taken to hospital by ambulance. The police prevented witnesses from giving statements. No crime scene investigators came to the scene. If the police had made an immediate announcement, they could have caught the perpetrators.
I spent 10 hours in surgery at the hospital, and the police did not take my statement for three days.
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ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST - MALIKA
I'm Malika, a transgender woman from Côte d'Ivoire. I work with campaign groups to support people who do not conform to gender norms - queer people, androgynous people, and transgender people.
My existence in Ivory Coast is illegal. I have to live in secret, and am scared of facing stigma and violence. The situation saddens me. I cannot work, or receive counseling or hormone therapy, which makes me depressed. The most important thing is that we can be who we feel we are.
As you may have read, Ivorian trans people are often physically attacked, humiliated in videos or articles or blackmailed. The trans community here has existed since the 1990s, but remains in the margins because HIV/AIDS projects have silenced gender issues.
Today on 20th November, transgender day of remembrance, we remember our predecessors who have been killed by the hormonal therapies they undergo, and by assaults which happen because of stigma and discrimination.
Today I especially want to honor the memories of Anais, Tatiana and Pauline.
NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - BROOKE CERDA GUZMAN
People for some reason just gravitate towards trans day of remembrance. It's very disturbing because I don't know what the message is. People don't come to our events, they only show up once we get murdered.
That's a big problem, to have an entire society that is obsessed with us getting murdered. But we are here, alive, doing so much at the same time, we can never catch a break. We cannot get funding.
We lost 22, 23 women, I lost count. To be really honest, I don't have the luxury to remember the dead. I remember my sisters who are struggling.
Homelessness, that's the direct result of being an outcast your entire life. Of not being welcome anywhere, being the other wherever you go. How can anybody function when they are under attack all the time? You're solicited for sex work just because you're trans.
If people really care about us, why not just set a scholarship for trans women? If you say we're unemployable, then train us. It's getting ridiculous to continue celebrating trans day of remembrance.
BELGRADE, SERBIA - KRISTIAN RANDJELOVIC
The situation for trans people in Serbia is difficult. Society is very transphobic, it tends to blame the victim and protect the perpetrator.
Recently a transgender person was attacked on public transport, and the only person who reacted was an older woman, who verbally attacked the victim saying "it's their fault."
One month ago a transphobic hate crime against a trans couple was reported to us - a trans man had been attacked when the perpetrators recognized him as the boyfriend of the person who "changed sex."
The case was reported to the police, but the information is leaking and their safety is now compromised, so they had to leave their home and move to another town.
Trans sex workers particularly are one of society's most marginalized groups, exposed to violence every day because of their gender identity and their engagement in sex work.
As well as violence, poverty and the lack of enforcement are the greatest difficulties trans people face in Serbia. We need urgent changes to protect the lives of trans people.
(Reporting By Joseph D'Urso, Sebastien Malo, Kieran Guilbert, editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)
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