With everything unsettling that’s going on on our lives of late (I don’t even need to remind you of what), it’s easy for some to forget that today (November 20) is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Recognized every November 20 since 1999, this day is a follow-up to Transgender Awareness Week, and is meant to memorialize and raise awareness of those in the trans community who lost their lives or are at real risk of losing their lives to senseless acts of transphobia. Indeed, TDoR was started in the wake of the still-unsolved murder of Rita Hester, a trans woman in Massachusetts who lost her life in late November 1998.
Now, as I noted in the opening sentence, it’s easy for a day such as this to escape the mind, what with the overarching concern over LGBTQ rights in light of the recent United States election results. But it’s important to remember the “T” in “LGBTQ” and know that trans people of all stripes in all locales face real struggles of acceptance. Know, too, that trans people face real threats of their life and well being. And if you don’t believe me, get hip to this fact: The year 2016 has been the deadliest on record in terms of murders of trans Americans being murdered, with at least 26 such acts recorded (2015, by comparison, had 21 recorded trans murders). And it’s a worldwide concern as well, as sadly confirmed by the TDoR.info website’s list of 2016 worldwide victims, and the fact that, as confirmed in the video I’ve embedded below, over 2,200 murders of trans people have been reported since the Trans Murder Project was established in 2008. (Note I underline “reported,” as it’s just the number of those murders that were recorded as being against a trans person and not the complete number worldwide. Still, 2,200+ is a pretty big number.)
I see those lists and those names and their pictures, and I can’t help but think… my goodness, so many beautiful human beings, living their lives as their true selves… and losing their lives for one unifying reason — people with real hate and malice in their hearts have no respect for beautiful human beings who dare to live outside the gender norms that society has put in place. These trans victims are more than trans people, of course. Indeed, they were someone’s daughter or son, someone’s brother or sister, someone’s aunt or uncle or parent, someone’s friend, someone’s lover, someone’s closest confidant. Tragically, they are regarded as nothing more than statistics, and not the true human beings they were.
Seeing these victims’ names and faces and knowing they were lost to truly senseless acts sends several shivers down my spine, not because I’m a human being but also because I am part of the trans community. Oh, sure, I may be only a crossdresser and do not live full-time as a woman. But I can’t help but think that when I dare to present Allison to the real-life world (i.e. not here online), I am putting my life and safety at risk. Sure, Madison may be generally trans-friendly, but there could be someone from some dark-hearted corner of town who will read me as someone other than female and threaten me because of it.
Additionally, I shiver over the thought of those in the trans community who I have either met in person or follow on WordPress or social media. That they fully present their true selves to the real world make them stronger people than I ever will be. But yet, they live in constant fear of discrimination, prejudice… and worse. I truly empathize and worry over them, I fear that no harm will come to them, and I pray that they will continue to live the lives they have a right to live and not be shuttered into a closet of silence.
While the fear and concern of trans peoples’ safety is of true concern (and don’t let the bigoted haters tell you otherwise), it’s heartening to know that stands are being taken to respect trans people and their safety. Take the following bullet points I came across at this link:
- People are taking stands against trans abuse of all kinds, against words and actions that can dehumanize or misgender those in the trans community. Many are also volunteering for trans-supportive organizations, building ally lists, and are keeping lists of politicians who have (or have not) expressed support for trans people.
- Businesses everywhere are establishing gender-neutral restrooms, or at least accept trans people use restrooms for the gender which they identify, transphobic North Carolina legislation be dammed.
- Speaking of restrooms, there is a growing movement of those willing to have a trans person’s back in the restroom, a “bathroom ally” if you will. It’s known as “I’ll Go With You,” and it helps ensure trans people that someone will be by their side if they receive harassment or threats or even a gender question.
- There are also avenues for trans people to find a safe place to spend the night. A website called the Transgender Housing Network is one such avenue, where trans people and supportive souls can connect in case someone needs a spare room or even a couch to crash on for a little while.
- And there’s even an effort to “make a trans person’s day” by ordering them pizza. I’m not making this up. It’s true! This Autostraddle article has information on how to order pizza for a trans person you know or even don’t know, and even has a Google Doc form where you can give out order information and pizza preference. Now, if getting pizza doesn’t bring a bit of a smile to your face on this day…
But while support and action is all good and well, let’s not forget the trans people who are no longer with us, lost due to ugly and senseless acts of hate. Take time to look at their names and faces here and here. Take note of the second of those two links, the one from Logo; online and on-air today, they are reminding everyone that these are more than just names and statistics, but rather real human beings with real lives now cut short and real dreams now left unfulfilled. Seriously, pay attention to their names and faces. Honor them. Grieve for them. And never forget them.
And while you’re here, please watch this video in which Kate from BBC Scotland’s The Social website shares some thoughts on this Trans Day of Remembrance, some sobering statistics and facts, and the importance of remembering those who have been lost. (Before you watch this video, an advisory: Strong and unsettling language are included.)