How I Count The Trans Murders

The number of murdered trans folks in 2020 has beenholding steady so far at onesince New Year’s Day.  But I expect that number to quickly rise once winter gives way to spring and summer and the temps rise.

People have asked me what are the parameters I use to count trans deaths, so here they are. 

*I use the standards of the Remembering our Dead Web Project as created by Gwen Smith.   If you report a person as having been killed to me, I will need a link to at least one or two local news media stories confirming that the person was killed.   Will need a link to their Facebook page if known as well so that I can have a nice pic of the person to use while telling their story instead of a mug shot.


*I count from 12:00 AM January 1 to 11:59 PM on December 31 in the same calendar year.  I don’t count from TDOR to TDOR.  We need to know how many people have been killed in a calendar year so we can have those hard numbers.

*I don’t include suicides.   A person who commits suicide has made a choice about taking their life.   Someone who is murdered doesn’t have the element of choice.  The perpetrator of the anti-trans violence made that choice to end their life for them. 

Trans suicide, while important to talk about, is a wholly separate issue from trans people who have been violently taken from us.   Suicides should not be lumped in with TDOR murder stats.

*If someone has been killed while in prison or ICE custody, unless someone in that prison or ICE has been charged with murder, I can’t for journalistic reasons count it in the yearly stats. 

Same rationale for someone killed by a police officer.   Unless that officer is charged with murder, can’t count it as a trans murder no matter how much we suspect that’s exactly what happened.

*I’m focusing on counting the trans deaths in the United States.   There are other orgs tracking the deaths in Europe, Latin America, Asia and other parts of the world like Transgender Europe (TGEU)  and OutRight Action International

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Facts are what matter.   I am striving for accuracy when I compile these counts on these TransGriot pages.   As a member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) I’m also doing my utmost to follow the journalistic standards of these organizations I am a proud member of.   

It’s even more important now I’m finding myself doing more local and national print and television interviews to talk about the anti-trans violence that’s killing us.  I also don’t want our right wing opposition or TERFs trying to claim we’re padding the counts.

If someone is arrested after the commisison of one of these murders aginst our siblings, the average time from an arrest to trial is about two years.   With the avalanche of cases happening and my limited bandwith to keep track of it all, I am asking for help from you TransGriot readers to let me know when these trans killers in your areas of the country come to trial. 

I want to know if the killers have been found guilty, and if so, how much time did they get when they were sentenced.

So with so many cases happening, I will need a reminder from you, TransGriot readers if you see news of a a trans murderer going to trial .

So these are the guidelines I use to track trans murders.  I hope and pray I won’t be as busy as I have been the last few years documenting these cases, but we still have a lot of 2020 left, a raving transphobe in the White House, conservative media going buck wild in sprading transphobic BS, and Republican lawmakers in the US trying to pass unjust anti-trans bills.

So while I’m hoping for the best, I’m mentally prepared to expect another bad year on the trans murder front.. 


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