By Dr. Carsten Balzer and Jan Hutta
A year ago, Transgender Europe (TGEU), the European advocacy organisation and network of trans organizations, published the first preliminary results of its worldwide Trans Murder Monitoring. By July 2009, the research team of TGEU had documented 121 reported homicides of trans persons from January 2008 to December 2008, and 83 from January 2009 to June 2009, claiming that every 3rd day the killing of a trans person is reported.
Already at this first stage, it was clear that due to the lack of monitoring systems in almost all countries, the fact that there are no estimates of the unreported cases, as well as some challenges in collecting and reporting cases of murdered trans persons, the then published data provided only a rough glimpse of reality, the tip of the iceberg of actually murdered trans people. In a first research report, it was stated that the real situation is much worse and that over the last years an increase in reports of killed trans persons can be observed. This tendency has now been confirmed.
New data: 426 reported killings of trans people worldwide since 2008
The new Interim Update of July 2010 sadly confirms a tendency that was already observed a year ago and since then confirmed with every new update: the ongoing increase of reports of murdered trans people worldwide. Already in the first six months of 2010, 93 reported killings of trans people were documented, which means that every second day a homicide of a trans person is being reported.
In total, this adds up to 426 reported killings of trans people in the last 2 ½ years. Cases have been reported in Asia, Central and South America, Europe, and North America.
As in the previous years, most reported cases were from Central and South America. In total, 97 killings were reported in 13 Central and South American countries in 2008, 135 killings in 15 Central and South American Countries in 2009, and 77 killings in 10 Central and South American Countries in the first half of 2010. The reported homicides of trans people in Central and South America account for 77 % of the globally reported homicides of trans people since 2008. The starkest increase in reports is also to be found in Central and South America, e.g. in Brazil (2008: 59, 2009: 68, January-June 2010: 40), Guatemala (2008: 1, 2009: 13, January-June 2010: 14) and Mexico (2008: 4, 2009: 10, January-June 2010: 9).
The interim update of the preliminary results also reveals that in the first six months of 2010, 7 homicides of trans people were reported in the US (2008: 17, 2009: 14), 5 in Europe (2008: 11, 2009: 17) and 4 in Asia (2008: 9, 2009: 8). Another finding of the interim update is that while Brazil has received special attention due to the elevated number of killings, the number of killings in other South and Central American countries like Venezuela, Honduras and in particular Guatemala is equally or even more worrying in view of the much smaller population sizes of these countries.
The TvT research project
TGEU’s Trans Murder Monitoring project has now developed into the international ‘Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide’ (TvT) research project. TvT is a comparative, ongoing qualitative-quantitative research project which provides an overview of the human rights situation of trans persons in different parts of the world and develops useful data and advocacy tools for international institutions, human rights organizations, the trans movement and the general public.
A research team from Transgender Europe is coordinating the project, which is funded by the Open Society Foundations, the ARCUS Foundation, and partly by the Heinrich Boell Foundation. TGEU’s research team is assisted by an Advisory Board, composed of international LGBT, trans and human rights activists and academics from Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America, and Oceania. It furthermore cooperates with partner organizations in these six world regions.
Mapping of the legal and social situation has started in September
While the Trans Murder Monitoring is useful in providing a first insight into the human rights situation of trans people on a global scale, there is a need for in-depth research and contextualization, as well as for an evaluation of existing findings. For this purpose, in September 2010 the TvT project has started a survey in cooperation with partner organizations in the six world regions.
An expert questionnaire designed to map the legal and social situation of trans people on a worldwide scale is being used for this purpose. This questionnaire comprises three parts that address the legal situation, the social situation and the Trans Murder Monitoring.
It is a transcultural questionnaire and has been reviewed by international LGBT, trans and human rights activists from Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America, and Oceania. The research findings will be continuously published on the TvT website as the questionnaires from the different countries and regions are being recollected and analysed. Please keep an eye in particular on our ‘Countries’ section, which will be regularly updated from November onwards.
In addition to the expert questionnaire, TvT has started to conduct semi-structured interviews with trans activists and further experts in order to learn more about the different cultural, political, social and legal contexts in which the survey is conducted.
We would like to encourage trans movements, organizations and activists in all parts of the world to contribute their knowledge and expertise to help the TvT research team and its cooperating partner organizations in the Global South and East in mapping the global human rights situation of trans people and enable a contextualisation of the findings. TvT is currently looking for interviewees in all world regions.
Further information: www.transrespect-transphobia.org/en_US/tvt-project/tmm-results.htm