Honoring Transgender Day of Remembrance

Press Release Shim

Speeches Shim


For Immediate Release

Saturday, November 20, 2021

On a June evening earlier this year, Andrea González, a torch bearer of Guatemala’s LGBTQI+ movement and a leader in the transgender women’s organization Otrans Reinas de la Noche, “Queens of the Night,” was shot dead in the street near her home in Guatemala City. Just 28-years-old, Andrea was a State Department Leadership Fellow and Otrans was a partner of USAID, working to advocate for the right to gender identity as a human right in Guatemala. Her murder occurred just two days after another Otrans member, Cecy Ixpatá, was beaten in a market where she worked, and ultimately succumbed to her injuries. I visited Guatemala just days after Andrea and Cecy were killed, and heard from their colleague about how their deaths sent a chill through the LGBTQI+ community in Guatemala in the midst of Pride month.

Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, is an opportunity to honor Andrea, Cecy, and the many transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary persons whose lives have been taken in anti-transgender acts of violence. Since the first observance of this day in 1999, it has become an occasion to draw attention to the devastating impact transphobia has on the lives and dignity of transgender people around the world, and the targeted violence transgender people face. As of October of this year, 282 trans and gender-diverse people have been murdered, with Greece, Kazakhstan, and Malawi reporting killings for the first time. In the United States, 2021 is on track to be one of the deadliest years on record for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

As President Biden outlined in a memorandum in February, all U.S. government departments and agencies have a clear, unequivocal mandate to combat violence, discrimination, and criminalization based on gender identity and expression. At USAID, we have long sought to counter the violence and discrimination that transgender people face in communities throughout the world. We have supported comprehensive healthcare for transgender people, including lifesaving hormone therapy. We’ve helped organizations provide essential services and access to legal support for LGBTQI+ people facing persecution because of who they are or whom they love. And we are working with faith-based organizations around the world to affirm, protect, and uphold the rights of transgender people.

Despite these efforts, we can and must do more. Transgender people should be able to receive an education, seek employment, access health care, and engage democratic institutions safely and with dignity no matter where they live. To fulfill a vision of development that is truly inclusive, we must work to extend the reach of safety, prosperity, and freedom to all a country’s citizens, including its transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

We must also build a workplace culture that is more diverse, more inclusive, and more equitable, including improving the recruitment, retention, and promotion of transgender and gender diverse staff.

Today, and every day, it is vital to affirm that transgender rights are human rights, whether at home or abroad.

Last updated: August 09, 2022

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