When Transgender Men And Women Are Killed Abroad

You already know why honor killings occur: a male member of the family usually believes that a daughter or wife is guilty of adultery or non-traditional relationship, and so he murders her in order to restore the family’s honor — often with the help of a son or brother. Women who are raped are also killed for this reason on a regular basis — because the family will target the victim. In 2019, two transgender women were targeted in Pakistan.

The bodies showed signs of torture. They were beaten to death. Sahiwal District Senior Officer Mohammad Ali Zia was unsure what motivated the killings, but gender identity issues are a common reason for families to carry about honor killings. 

Although transgender family members are rarely killed for that reason in the United States, the transgender community there still faces extreme daily hardships and an increased assault and murder rate perpetrated against them. 

A recently introduced state bill in Maryland would allow transgender individuals to change their names by forcing judges to issue a waiver to another Maryland law, which requires individuals who wish to change their names to publish the change in a local newspaper.

An anonymous attorney at Nagel Rice LLP (nagelrice.com) said that the law will help keep transgender clients safe. 

SB 581 and HB 39 was sponsored in the Maryland Senate by Senator Shelly Hettleman (D-Baltimore) and House Delegate Emily Shetty (D-Montgomery). 

Opponents of the bill are upset that it would tie the hands of judges who might have ruled a different way. Senator Bryan Simonaire (R-Pasadena) voted against the legislation but provided no reason when asked for comment.

The Maryland Judiciary also opposes the bill’s passage. Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera wrote, “The Judiciary believes it is important for judges to weigh the facts and circumstances for each individual case. Provisions that place restrictions on the judge prevent the judge from considering legislative intent or factors unique to the case. The notification requirement [of Maryland law] also serves to prevent fraud and mandatory elimination of such notice could lead to an increase in such activities.”

Maryland resident Lilly Tilden says the law didn’t come soon enough for her, and that she found the requirement to publish her former name in The Capital under current law “heartbreaking.”

These kinds of laws are nearly unthinkable in countries like Pakistan, where young women are killed at epidemic-like rates in rural areas across the country. The same can be said of India and some countries in Africa, where honor killings still occur at a trouble rate. Although there has been an increased public outcry and activism from human rights groups over the last few years, the actual number of honor killings hasn’t changed. Some feel that the fight is almost hopeless.