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Transgender Day of Remembrance: Honouring Naomi Hersi and trans women facing oppression and violence

The epidemic of hate suffered by trans women continues to scar our society.

2018-11-20

Today (20 November 2018) marks Transgender Day of Remembrance to honour those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. 

Naomi Hersi, a trans woman who was tragically stabbed to death earlier this year, has been honoured with a posthomous Attitude Pride Award, which also honours all other victims of transphobic violence.

Naomi was 36 years old when she was found with knife injuries in a hotel room near Heathrow Airport, where she died soon after.

People who knew Naomi described her as “fun to be around" and "a real character" as well as "one of the most caring people I have ever met.”

We spoke briefly to Goursen Ibrahim, a former neighbour of Naomi, who remembered nights they spent drinking rum, and how Naomi had strong links to her Muslim faith and was a friendly face in the local community.

Her own Twitter biography lists her as a lover of tennis, music, film, cats and chocolate — all proven by her tweets and retweets about Andy Murray, Angelina Jolie, Little Mix and Nutella brownies.

After Naomi’s death, 24-year-old Jesse McDonald was charged with murder and is awaiting trial, which is expected to take place in September. A 17-year-old girl, who can’t be named for legal reasons, was also arrested and charged with assisting an offender.

While Naomi’s death is shocking, it is sadly not all that surprising. As a community, we know that trans women of colour are the most victimised, most marginalised, most at risk of facing violence.

There’s proof of this fact all around the world. In the USA, Human Rights Campaign reported that at least 28 transgender people died in violent circumstances in 2017.

In Brazil, there was a 30 per cent spike last year in the number of violent LGBT+ deaths — including that of Dandara dos Santos, a transgender woman who was beaten to death, with footage of her being kicked going viral on social media and prompting outcry.

Here in the UK, Stonewall reports that, on average, two in every five trans people have experienced a hate crime in the past 12 months because of their gender identity, but often many cases go unreported — indeed, the government’s recent National LGBT Survey found that more than 90 per cent of respondents hadn’t reported the most serious incident they’d experienced, believing they’d be considered too minor or wouldn’t be taken seriously.

In a tragic twist of fate Naomi’s final tweet — albeit from May 2015 — she shared a link to a Vice article, titled: 'Trans Women of Colour Face an Epidemic of Violence…'

Hear more about Naomi's story and the epidemic of violence against trans women below:

Read more about this year's Attitude Pride Award winners in our new August issue, out July 19.