The 20th November 2011 is the 13th International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). Two New Zealand commemorations are being held a week later on 29 November. They are a chance to remember Diksy Jones who was killed in Upper Hutt in 2009, aged 64. Diksy was a quiet, gentle, cabinet-maker who loved old cars, cricket and cats. TDOR also demonstrates the power and resilience of trans communities speaking out against violence, proudly being who they are.
In Auckland: GenderBridge has a community event at St Matthew-in-the-City at 7pm on Tuesday 29 November. The church is on the corner of Wellesley and Hobson Streets. BYO a plate of food to share.
In Hamilton: Agender Waikato, in conjunction with Hamilton Pride, are holding a Transgender Day of Rememberance at the Riff Raff statue Hamilton at 7pm, 20th November. Local politicians are invited to attend and those who attend usually give a short speech.
In Christchurch: the recently reopened Te Whare Puakitanga / Transition House will be holding a community meeting from 7-9pm on 29 November. Nau mai, haere mai koutou – everyone is welcome. Contact Cherise Witehira on (03) 372-9298 or email@example.com for the address.
The Human Rights Commission would really like to hear about any other Transgender Day of Remembrance events around New Zealand this year. Please send any details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first Transgender Day of Remembrance candlelight vigil was held in San Francisco in 1999 to remember Rita Hester who was murdered on November 28th, 1998 simply because she was trans. It sparked the “Remembering Our Dead” web project to publicly mourn and honour the lives of those who might otherwise be forgotten. TDOR raises public awareness of violence and hate crimes against trans people, and provides an opportunity for non-trans people to stand alongside their trans friends, partners, children and parents. In New Zealand the Police Diversity Liaison Officers regular participate in these community events.
The Trans respect versus Transphobia (TvT) project monitors trans murders around the world. In the first nine months of 2011 alone, 116 murders of trans people from 23 countries had been registered with the project. Since January 2008, TvT has documented 681 reports of murdered trans people from 50 countries. Diksy Jones is remembered on that website and in this November 2009 article about TDOR.
In December 2010 two men were convicted of manslaughter for killing Diksy Jones, and jailed for 9.5 and 10 years respectively. Justice Robert Dobson in the High Court in Wellington said he gave the younger man the longer sentence because his part in the “brutal and tragic” attack constituted a hate crime. This was based on comments the man had made to police that he followed Diksy home “to beat up a transvestite”, that he “believed in Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”, and thought Diksy did not deserve to live.
In July this year, three Court of Appeal judges ruled that the longer jail term be reduced to nine years, and the minimum non-parole period be cut from five to four years. The appeal court judges considered Justice Dobson “overstated the seriousness of the hate crime aspect of the homicide”.