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Secretary of State John Kerry honored the memory of transgender individuals who lost their lives to “senseless acts of violence” on Sunday and said the U.S. stands in “solidarity” with the community around the world.

“Transgender persons around the world are targeted by rising levels of violence fueled by hatred and bigotry,” Kerry said in a statement recognizing Transgender Day of Remembrance. “This is a global challenge and we all must do more to protect transgender persons on the basis of equality and dignity.”

He said that in the U.S., the Constitution “enshrines freedoms of peaceful assembly, speech and association, and it affirms that everyone has equal protection under the law.”

“Around the world,” he added, “human rights and fundamental freedoms are recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that every person is born free and equal in dignity and rights. Every person includes transgender women, transgender men, and other individuals who face marginalization on account of their gender expression or gender identity.”

“Today we stand in solidarity with the incredible resilience and leadership of the transgender community in responding to stigma and marginalization,” Kerry continued. “Transgender persons deepen our diversity, broaden our communities, and strengthen the values we cherish. When all persons reach their full human potential, free from fear, intimidation, and violence, nations become more just, secure and prosperous.”

The U.S. remains “committed to advance the human rights of all persons, including transgender persons,” Kerry said, adding, “we reaffirm equality for all as part of our core constitutional principles and as a human rights priority of U.S. diplomacy.”

The annual Transgender Day of Remembrance was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith “as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998,” according to GLAAD, an organization run by LGBT people in the media.

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