Today, we recognize the horrors endured by trans communities:
Some trans people don't have the money, or the racial privilege, or particular position on the gender spectrum that trans people like myself can use to at least to some degree insulate ourselves from the danger associated with trans life.
On Trans Day of Remembrance, we remember that the people who are dying are trans folks of color - particularly trans women of color, particularly young trans women of color who are homeless or are sex workers.
As one of my friends explained, even more than the people who die or who are injured by physical violence, there are many more people who are just staying home and not living their lives: abstaining from their own lives and living in fear. How many times do you abstain from living before you are not living at all?
Trans Day of Remembrance is a day for trans people and allies to think about the people who have died. I think about the people who I know and who I have met who have died from violence.
I need to remember to look, to listen, and to engage with the people around me, and I need to build resolve to work to stop the institutions that foster the kind of prejudice, hate, and disregard for trans folks, as well as systems of racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia. The gender norms that tell us who is included and who is excluded. The racial norms that tell us who is included and who is excluded. The sexual orientation norms that tell us who is included and who is excluded. The class norms that tell us who is included and who is excluded. They decide who is a freak, a queer, not worth it, and discardable.
If it were not for trans community, I may not have learned about race, class, sexual orientation, and gender the way that I have. Trans Day of Remembrance is a time to take the horror that we witnessed, and to really sit with it. And then to turn to community for inspiration, love, compassion, resilience, and strength.
We remember the deaths and think about how to keep trans work and work for the trans community alive. And to keep it alive in a way that is focused on what needs to be done to give people who do not have it this kind of basic safety, and ability to live, work, and sleep in the world.
Never heard of Trans Day of Remembrance before? Get a basic primer here.
I sent some quenchistas some questions I had about Trans Day of Remembrance in order to start a conversation. If you can, please take the time to answer some or all of these questions in the comments:
- What does Trans Day of Remembrance mean to you?
- How would you define anti-trans violence?
- What one message would you send to trans communities on this day?
- What message would you send to broader communities on a national or international level on this day?
In addition, if it feels right for you, please feel free to share your experience of anti-trans violence in your life. Please mark comments that may be triggering to others as such at the beginning of the comment.
Here is what other quenchistas and friends of quenchistas have to say about Trans Day of Remembrance. Thank you to these brave folks who volunteered to start the discussion.
1. For me, TDOR is a time to honor the memory of victims of hate and violence, express solidarity with communities facing oppression and speak out for the need to combat such hatred and violence.
2. I would define anti-trans violence as hateful actions and expressions that serve to dehumanize, degrade or dis-empower someone because of their gender identity or expression. This includes physical attacks, intimidation or harassment, but I also consider hate speech a form of emotional violence, and I consider anti-trans legislation, institutions and laws a form of systemic violence against trans and gender-non-conforming people.
3. I feel grief for the loss and the pain you face on a daily basis. I want to stand in solidarity, and I want to help in the best way I can.
4. Our society needs to start respecting, honoring and treating trans people like fellow human beings, who deserve access to basic things like restrooms, safe and affordable housing, physical safety and freedom from workplace harassment. It's an embarrassment, and an outrage to live in a society where trans people lack protections in many, many states (even those like Massachusetts that protect people based on sexual orientation). This is a civil rights struggle. Let's step it up. And donate to MPTC. Do it today.
1. It's time to remember, I guess. Sounds trite, but it's when I think about trans issues specially.
2. Attacks on people due to perceived gender presentation.
3. As a trans woman, this is a hard time... I don't have particularly profound thoughts. :-(
4. We exist, we are not going to pretend we aren't suffering violence, and it needs to stop. And we must all remember those who died for who they were.
1. i guess it has several meanings for me, but one thing that's coming to mind right now is that it represents a time when all the members of the lgbt community (should) think about the t part of our acronym and question whether we've done enough to support some of our community's most vulnerable members. (for some reason this is making me think of ENDA and the HRC's bullshit, too...)
2. i would define it pretty broadly as any kind of violence (physical, emotional, etc) directed against someone because of some aspect of their gender presentation or how it's perceived
3. a message of support and hope for a better future
4. that's a hard one because obviously i would like to send the message that would get people to look beyond their own experiences and to try to understand and respect trans people. but i don't know what that message is, or if there is one single message that would work.
1. Transgender Day of Remembrance to me is a day to take a step back and get a jolt of recognition about how high the stakes are in the struggle to openly be ourselves. It's a time to remember individuals, but also to claim their individual deaths as a reminder that all of us, T, L,G,B and all other identities, are far from being safe.
2. Anti-trans violence is violence based on a sense of confidence that confusion about someone's body presentation, specifically gender in this case, warrants some kind of counterpoint to be established, a counterargument against someone's being, which comes in the form of an assault, physical or otherwise, on someone's body.
3. I'll listen to you tomorrow too.
4. I care about this, and I will explain why to the best of my ability.
1. hm, i guess to me trans day of remembrance just means a reminder of the violence suffered by trans people, and of all the discrimination trans people currently face in our society.
2. i would define it as any act of violence perpetrated because of a person's perceived gender identity or performance (not including like, violence against women, because thats sometimes because of gender identity too, but you know what i mean)
3. hm, well if it only got to be one message, i guess i would want it to be that even though a lot of things suck right now, you have a lot of allies, and things won't suck forever (hopefully!)
4. i think its sort of ridiculous that people who have at some point in history been in the same situation trans people are in at this moment in time are failing to speak out against violence, or even to ally themselves with trans people in any way. so i guess the message i'd send would be something along the lines of "shape up." and also like, don't take your own liberties for granted. people seem to often have this crazy belief that if they're not the ones being persecuted, its all good. forgetting that a) persecution is still bad, and b) they're probably next.
1. Trans Day of Remembrance is a day for people in the larger community to acknowledge that real, flesh and blood, thinking, feeling, loving human beings are victimized all too frequently as a result of the careless, thoughtless transphobia that is still perpetuated in most societies simply because a lot of people are not exposed to out, every day trans people, only negative stereotypes in the media.What are your thoughts?
2. For people in the trans and larger BGLT and supporter communities, it is a day to be together and supportive of each other and of the friends and families of victims of transphobic violence.
3. Violence that is partially or fully motivated by the fact that the victim is a transsexual can be defined as anti-trans violence.
4. I would tell trans communities to be strong and not be afraid, although I know that that is infinitely harder to do than to type. Being out and being honest and open with non-trans people is the only way to destroy the stigma that is at the base of anti-trans violence. I believe that the collective strength of individual homosexuals in coming out to their straight friends is what has brought us this far in the fight for gay rights, and that trans people must do the same if they want to achieve the same level of acceptance (whatever that level may be). First, that trans people exist in our everyday worlds just as we have come to accept that gay people do. Second, that negative stereotypes that people in the broader community might laugh off have the most serious of consequences.