Agostina da Rocha, a 2023 alumna of the Institute’s annual Genocide and Human Rights University Program (GHRUP) has prepared on op-ed on the occasion of Transgender Day of Remembrance. In her piece, Agostina attributes the violence that the global transgender population faces today to genocide by attrition, which is defined by the late genocide scholar, Dr. Helen Fein, as: “…a group stripped of its human, political, civil, and economic rights. This leads to deprivation of conditions essential for maintaining health, thereby producing mass death.”

Agostina da Rocha (she/her) is a lawyer with a focus on criminal law from the University of Buenos Aires, and a member of the work team of the Gender and Law Program of the Faculty of Law. She is a specialist in gender, diversity, and human rights issues, and an official of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Argentina. Agostina is also a member of the research project “Criminology of Genocide and Denialisms: Contributions from the South”.

This op-ed piece was loosely based on her final graduation presentation of the 2023 GHRUP titled, Breaking the Binary: A Study of Trans Genocide by Attrition.

November 20, 2023: Today marks the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day that became instrumental in humanizing transgender people in media, public policies, and across communities. Every November 20, this date invites the world to reflect on building more equal societies for people of all genders and expressions. This day is also an opportunity to draw attention to the continuing violence that trans people frequently face worldwide.

The extreme instances of discrimination and violence suffered by the trans community are clear examples of hate crimes. 320 trans and gender-diverse people were reported murdered in this last year, according to the 2023 Trans Murder Monitoring. This number is most likely undercounted as many crimes are not reported, or misreported. The majority of those killed are racialized trans women or transfeminine people.

The term “the Universe of Obligation”, coined by late genocide scholar Prof. Helen Fein, refers to a society’s universal obligation to protect rights for all people. While this “universe” is constantly changing throughout history, today we find current rights for trans people under attack. As such, we should deepen our awareness of the human rights violations this particular community is facing.

Trans populations, globally, experience the denial or little access to health and medical care, housing, formal work, and education; and persecution and police violence, such as abuse, torture, and sexual violence. These methods describe state and non-state policies and practices that do not cause immediate death but instead lead to the slow and steady destruction of the group. This method of group destruction is very much in line with the definition of genocide by attrition, defined by Dr. Helen Fein.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights maintains that: “(…) the mere perception of trans identity puts people at risk.” Trans hate continues to produce silences, erasures, disappearances, exiles, and murders based on gender identity and expression.

Reflecting on the op-ed above, the Zoryan Institute acknowledges that on this day of remembrance, the world must acknowledge and deepen its awareness through education on the human rights violations that the global trans community continues to face. As Agostina mentioned in her op-ed piece above, and in the words of the late genocide scholar, Dr. Helen Fein, the world has the responsibility to promote the protection of rights of all people, including transgender peoples.


The Zoryan Institute is a non-profit organization that serves the cause of scholarship and public awareness relating to issues of universal human rights, genocide, and diaspora-homeland relations. This is done through the systematic continued efforts of scholars and specialists using a comparative and multidisciplinary approach and in accordance with the highest academic standards. 

To these ends the Institute undertakes and supports multi-disciplinary research, documentation, lectures, seminars, colloquia, and publications.