President Joe Biden honored Transgender Day of Remembrance on Saturday with a statement commemorating transgender people killed this year in the United States and worldwide.
“This year, at least 46 transgender individuals in this country — and hundreds more around the world — were killed in horrifying acts of violence,” the statement said. “Each of these lives was precious. Each of them deserved freedom, justice, and joy.”
Biden noted that this was the “deadliest year on record for transgender Americans” and that those who face violence, harassment and discrimination are “disproportionately Black and brown transgender women and girls.”
Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by trans activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith after the murder of trans woman Rita Hester.
“Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence,” Smith has said, per GLAAD. “I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost.”
Biden also called on state leaders to “combat the disturbing proliferation of discriminatory state legislation targeting transgender people, especially transgender children,” referring to a slew of laws already enacted or in the works this year that limit trans children’s access to health care or their ability to participate in sports.
Biden called these laws “bullying disguised as legislation.”
Earlier this week, three Democratic congresswomen ― Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Virginia, Marie Newman of Illinois and Jennifer Wexton of Virginia ― introduced a resolution to recognize the day on Nov. 20. And on the House floor, Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts read out the names of trans and gender nonconforming people killed in the U.S. over the last year.
In a statement about the resolution, Jayapal described herself as the “proud parent of an incredible trans kid” and urged the Senate to pass the Equality Act, a bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill passed the House in February.