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#TransLivesMatter: Students speak out for transgender liberation

By Shivaani Ehsaan |
January 14, 2015
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Tallahassee, FL - On Jan. 8, over 40 Florida State students and Tallahassee community members gathered to remember transgender people who were murdered or pushed to suicide. Transgender Europe reports that around the world, 226 transgender people were murdered in the year between October 2013 and October 2014. Some countries do not report this crime and others underreport, so figures are actually higher.

“Trans oppression is a struggle faced all over the world, from the millions of Indian transgender people who face massive unemployment, homelessness, rape and torture, to the 40% of American trans people who attempt suicide each year. We must smash trans oppression to achieve true liberation,” said a transgender woman who spoke at the event.

Regina Joseph of Dream Defenders addressed the crowd, “Trans people, especially those of color, are more likely to be attacked by the police. We must come together to smash all systems of oppression because our liberation is linked together.”

“Every day trans people are violently oppressed simply for being who they are and we need to radically change society’s views of gender if we want trans liberation,” said Katherine Draken from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

The event educated people about the murder of Jennifer Laude by a U.S. Marine at Subic Bay in the Philippines. Laude’s murder falls under the U.S. Military’s Visiting Forces Agreement, so the Philippine government has little to no say in prosecuting the U.S. Marine. U.S. Marine Joseph Pemberton committed a hate crime when he choked Jennifer Laude to death for being transgender. The U.S. conducts aggressive war games and oversees a counter-insurgency war against Filipino revolutionaries, so U.S. forces are given special treatment for their crimes.

The recent suicide death of teenager Leelah Alcorn in Cincinnati, Ohio, after her parents attempt to force her into ‘conversion’ therapy, is inspiring protests and vigils as well.

Student organizers and many around the country hope that recent incidents will launch a new struggle for transgender rights. Protest movements from the Philippines and India are inspiring activists in other parts of the world, including the U.S.

The Center for Participant Education, Dream Defenders, Students for a Democratic Society and The F-Word called the vigil to speak out for transgender liberation.

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