Em-URGE-ing Voices

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Trans Day of Remembrance — We Remember

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November 19, 2015


Tomorrow is Friday, November 20. Exciting times because we’re a few days from Thanksgiving, turkey, warm meals and family, but equally and devastatingly more important is TDOR — or Trans Day of Remembrance as the traditional finale to Transgender Awareness Week, which is celebrated November 14-20 of each year.

For those who are unaware, the Trans Day of Remembrance was started by trans* advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil Smith held was a tribute to all of the trans* people who lost their lives to violence that year and has since become an annual memorial to be celebrated, mourned, and remembered all across the globe.

The amount of trans* folks that were killed in 2015 alone is a heartbreaking and disgusting reminder that America is still in a mindset of believing that trans* folks are aliens, a mixed up shell of a person, a dichotomy where it’s unsafe to be your authentic self because people are so close minded on gender and what it means to be free within yourself. There have been over 23 trans* women of color (reported and known) that have been murdered in the U.S this year. Some of those names are as follows:

Papi Edwards, 20, killed from a gunshot wound in Lousiville, Kentucky on January 9, 2015

Lamia Beard, 30, shot on Jan. 17 but died January 30 in Norfolk, Virginia

Bri Golec, 22, was stabbed by her father on Feb. 13 in Akron, OH

India Clarke, 25, shot in the head and arm on July 21 in Tampa, FL

K.C Haggard, 26, stabbed in the neck in Fresno, California on July 23

Tamara Diminguez, 36, was repeatedly run over by a truck on August 15 in Kansas City, Missouri….And on and on and on the list goes.

For context, the definition of transgender is: an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression, or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth. A trans* woman is a person who was assigned male at birth but identifies, lives, dresses, and displays characteristics of a woman, because that is what they know they are.

The rate at which trans* women are being murdered is alarming. Even worse, out of the 23 murdered, 20 of them were women of color. The movement has spawned hashtag conversations of #TransLivesMatter and #SayHerName on Twitter. One thing that I’ve unfortunately noticed with the Black Lives Matter movement is that it tends to erase trans* folks of color, and that’s a HUGE problem. Even though I mentioned trans* women of color specifically, we cannot ignore our international trans* folks as well. In countries like Asia, Africa and Brazil, they are also being killed at an alarming rate in the most premeditated, hateful, and vile ways such as decapitation, stabbing, sodomy, beaten and raped, mutilated, and set on fire. It’s heart-wrenching, evil and yet more proof that transphobia is alive and well.

There are many people who try to actively dehumanize and “other” trans* folks in an effort to devalue their lives, adding another layer to homophobia and denormalization of a group of people who want acceptance, but feel they cannot achieve it because society is “used to” heteronormativity. There’s  a raging, conscious bias against trans* folks, and it not only pisses me off, but it makes me realize that there isn’t enough education or acceptance around what it means to be trans*. Why do we hate a person so much for them trying to live out their journey of self-discovery that we kill them for being their authentic self, for walking in their truth? Just because we don’t view it as normal doesn’t mean we get to dictate what they deserve, what rights they should have and whether they deserve to LIVE OR DIE. The real question is, what is normal? That’s the problem, we let man-made rules and our politics spoil us into entitlement, so everything we see as a derivative from us being comfortable and liking, we destroy, isolate, and ridicule.  Who do we think we are? Quite frankly, that’s bullshit and I’m not having it.

Trans* people don’t have legal protections for accessing things like housing, jobs, medical care, and schooling. They have to use non-preferred gender nouns and birth names just to get help, which is dehumanizing and a reminder of their past. They pray they don’t get killed walking down the street or denied an opportunity just for being who they are. I’m tired of hashtagging and praying, but unfortunately that’s all I can do. I make sure I show love and support to all my trans* folk because bottom line? We don’t get to decide who’s worthy of love or not due to their gender. Everyone is human, with feelings, who need love and care. This isn’t a debate.

So on this TDOR, get out of your privileged-ass bubble and see the realities of these people. Attend an event, do research, and love a trans* person. Most importantly, remember their name — I know that I can never forget.

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