After TDOR 2014: The Faces of Killed Asian Transgenders, Element Magazine

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) held every year on November 20th marks the 15th anniversary this year. It is the day we pay homage to transgender people whose lives were cut tragically short due to homicide. The latest edition of The Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring Reports revealed a total of 226 cases of reported killings this year, a slight drop from previous year with a total of 238 reported homicide cases. It does not however put us at rest because each single one of them whose life shall not be ended in such a way. While we remember all the faces who have gone on this particular day, let us look at the few cases reported particularly in the Asia-Pacific region in recent years.

On 11 Oct, a transgender Filipino, Jennifer Laude, was found dead, apparently strangled and drowned, beside a toilet bowl in a motel room in Olongapo city, northwest of Manila. The 26 year-old victim has allegedly been murdered by a U.S Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was there among 3.000 others for two weeks military exercises with Filipino counterparts. Police said Laude’s attacker may have been angered when he discovered in the motel room that Laude was a transgender individual or because of an argument sparked by other reasons. Pemberton was transferred to a Phillipine military base and currently awaits trial.


(Dozens of activists protested at the U.S. Embassy in Manila on 14 October, demanding that Washington hand over the suspect to the Philippines. “This is just so abominable. It’s one of the worst hate crimes I’ve seen,” said Corky Hope Maranan, a leader of a group of transgender and lesbian Filipinos.)


In Brisbane (Australia), an Indonesian transgender woman, Mayang Prasetyo, was murdered and cooked by her husband on 5 Oct 2014.The couple met on a cruise ship. She married an Australian citizen Marcus Volke overseas in August last year. The 28-year-old chef, who had previously worked in a Melbourne brothel with his wife, had moved to Brisbane only weeks before he murdered Ms Praseto. Reports declared Mayang was apparently complaining of being “bored” and wanted to return to Bali where they owned a home. Police went to check the couple’s apartment on October 4 after neighbors complained of a putrid smell. After details of the gruesome crime made news, Australian tabloid The Courier Mail ran a lurid cover image of Prasetyo posing in a bikini, a headline that included the dehumanizing word “she-male,” and an article that emphasized her history as a sex worker. The sensationalistic coverage ignited a media firestorm. A petition has been launched under the name of the Brisbane Trans Community, demanding an apology from The Courier Mail/. Two weeks after Prasetyo’s death, the “Queen Killer” Marcus Volke killed himself. A week later, the tabloid issued a formal apology in the Brisbane Daily.


In July last year, a 29-year-old crushed a transvestite’s head in Mangadu, India.  Rajesh was employed with a private firm and was a friend of the victim, Hari. The duo used to drink together and share the money which Hari earned through fortune-telling in a nearby temple. Rajesh said that Hari tried to seduce him which started a fight. The police discovered the body under pile of stones in a cremation ground. “He piled up stones on the body and left the scene,” said an investigating officer. The incident came to light few days later, when Rajesh called up his brother and confessed about the murder. The murdered was arrested and put in jail.


In Malaysia, in October 2013, S. Athiswaran, a travestite, was murdered in his rented low-cost flat at Taman Pantai Bersih in Bagan Ajam. The body of the 31-year-old was covered with blood and his hands and legs were tied with a string. His face was also covered with plastic. The victim’s body was found on the floor in a bedroom and there were multiple stab wounds on the victim’s abdomen. “We are still investigating the case to establish the motive and believe that there is more than one person involved in the crime,” told Penang CID deputy chief Asst Comm Mohd Nasir Salleh to reporters at the scene. The killer(s) is/are yet to be identified…. Read more on Element Magazine