Rex Tillerson’s State Department Marks ‘Transgender Day of Remembrance’

Rex Tillerson
The Associated Press

A State Department press release in the name of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is honoring the memory of the so-called “transgender” individuals around the world on “Transgender Day of Remembrance.”

“On Transgender Day of Remembrance, the United States honors the memory of the many transgender individuals who have lost their lives to acts of violence,” the statement read.

The Day of Remembrance was invented in 1999 by San Francisco activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith. It is not recognized by Congress and a resolution introduced this year by Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) to change that has received little traction.

According to a State Department spokesman, the department has issued a statement in the name of the secretary for Transgender Day of Remembrance since 2013.

The term “transgender” refers to individuals identifying as women despite being biological males or vice versa. Smith maintains a website purporting to list “victim[s] of violence based on bias against transgender people.” Some entries include such caveats as “[The victim] did not identify as a transgender woman, but as a gay male. He was, nevertheless, presenting in female attire at the time of his murder, and this may have had a part in this death.”

The statement in Tillerson’s name continues, claiming that transgender rights are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution:

Transgender individuals and their advocates, along with lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex persons, are facing increasing physical attacks and arbitrary arrests in many parts of the world. Often these attacks are perpetrated by government officials, undermining the rule of law.

Transgender persons should not be subjected to violence or discrimination, and the human rights they share with all persons should be respected.

On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, the United States remains committed to advancing the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons. These principles are inherent in our own Constitution and drive the diplomacy of the United States.

Most of the victims listed on Smith’s site were killed in foreign countries, many of which, as the Tillerson statement alludes, have comparatively high rates of judicial and extra-judicial violence against transgender people.

Other Cabinet level officials did not mark the occasion of Transgender Day of Remembrance this year.