The Network of Sex Workers in Latin America and the Caribbean reported 28 August another murder of a trans Mexican sex worker. Elisarraráz Carmela Mendez, secretary of the Monarchs Civil Liberty Organization of Michoacan, was found at 5am at the Imperial Hotel in Morelia, Michoacan, west of Mexico City.
Mendez is the 117th trans person reported murdered in the first nine months of 2011. The 116th occurred 25 September in Turkey, in the Istanbul district of Başakşehir and is included in the register of Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM), a unique project started in April 2009 that systematically monitors, collects and analyses reports of homicides of trans people worldwide.
The project say that even these high numbers are only a fraction of the real figures:
"The truth is much worse. These are mainly the reported cases, which could be found through Internet research. In most countries, data on murdered trans people are not systematically produced and it is impossible to estimate the numbers of unreported cases."
TMM' s latest update reveals a total of 681 cases of reported killings of trans people from 1 January 2008 to 25 September 2011. Their name, age, location, cause of death, circumstances of the killing and any follow-up have been plotted on a map.
Name lists with detailed information regarding the cases will be provided for the International Transgender Remembrance Day (TDOR), 20 November. The TDOR raises public awareness of hate crimes against trans people, provides a space for public mourning and honours the lives of those trans people who might otherwise be forgotten.
In the first nine months of 2011, 116 reported murders of trans people were registered by TMM. These were in Brazil (29), Mexico (22); Columbia (10), Venezuela (11) the USA (7) as well as Argentina, Honduras, Guatemala, Philippines, and Turkey (4). Further murders have been reported in Bolivia, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Puerto Rico, and Russia.
Since January 2008, cases have been reported in 50 countries, from all six major World Regions.
Most reported cases are from Central and South America, which amount to 533 cases and account for 80 per cent of the globally reported homicides of trans people since January 2008. There LGBT people are increasingly organising to protest killings. In August Mexico held its first national march against anti-LGBT hate crimes. In Ecuador, Diane Rodríguez is an organiser with Silueta X, in Guayaquil.
"There are no good statistics, because when the police find a transgender person dead, they just put “male” on the form," she says. "It’s a hidden problem."
Rodríguez says there are two main reasons why transphobia is so pronounced in Latin America. ‘The first problem is religion,’ she points out.
"The second is machismo, a Latin-American term for an often extreme form of masculinity. Catholicism and evangelists cause a lot of problems."