Violence against trans women in Venezuela and across the globe
Laura // 5 June 2009
Helen G has been documenting instances of transphobic hate crime committed across the globe in the last few months, from Honduras to India, Serbia to Peru. Her latest report on transphobic violence comes from Venezuela, where over 20 trans people have been murdered this year alone:
“We’ve registered over 20 murders of transsexual people in Venezuela so far this year, which is more than twice the number seen in the second half of last year,” says Ms Cerezo [of Venezuelan transgender rights group, Transvenus].
But she says the real number of attacks is difficult to keep track of. “Many attacks against transsexual or transgender people – especially against transsexual prostitutes – go unreported. The police aren’t interested in investigating them properly. They just define them as crimes of passion, file them away, and leave it at that.”
As victims of both transphobia and transmisogyny, trans women are particularly susceptible to violence and discrimination. (Julia Serano defines transmisogyny as sexism that specifically targets those on the trans female / trans feminine section, part of which stems from the fact that a sexist and transphobic society cannot understand why a person they view as a man, and therefore better than a woman, would want to “choose” to “become” a person of less worth, a woman). Cerezo herself found that doors closed left right and centre when she came out as a woman. Helen comments:
This is, I’m sorry to say, an all-too-common experience for too many trans women across the world. We are systemically excluded from legal protections, we are demonised, marginalised and invisibilised to the point that for many sex work is the only realistic option to raise the money, not only to pay the rent and grocery bills, but also to pay for the various medical services we need. Although it’s something of a truism that many of us transition, not as a “lifestyle choice” but as a matter of survival, the corollorary for too many of us is that it’s a case of “out of the frying pan and into the fire” – and Ms Cerezo’s own experience seems to back that up.
It’s clear that unless cis people, as those in positions of power and privilege, stand up and support trans people across the globe, this violence and discrimination will continue unchecked:
Across the planet, we are fighting for the basic human rights and civil liberties which many cis people take for granted: access to healthcare, legal and employment protections – but above all, we are fighting for the right to live our lives without fear of reprisal from transphobic cis bigots who believe that violence is an appropriate response to the existence of trans people. And now is the time for our cis allies and governments everywhere to stand with us against this hatred.