November 20, 2007

2007 Trans Day of Remembrance

Today, we recognize the horrors endured by trans communities:

  • death
  • disappearance
  • suicide
  • murder
  • hiding
  • violence
  • addiction
  • loneliness
And we celebrate the lives we share together through:
  • community
  • solidarity
  • creativity
  • resilience
  • strength
  • love
Many trans people cannot take for granted basic safety while they walk down the street, day or night. They cannot take for granted their basic safety when going on a date, or working for a living.

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:

  1. What does Trans Day of Remembrance mean to you?
  2. How would you define anti-trans violence?
  3. What one message would you send to trans communities on this day?
  4. 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.


Comment 1:
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.


Comment 2:

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.


Comment 3:

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.


Comment 4:

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.


Comment 5:

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.


Comment 6:

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.
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.

What are your thoughts?

7 comments:

spork said...

1. This day means:

It means one day a year we set aside time to remember our dead and draw comfort and strength from one another.

2. Anti-trans violence is:

Violence (physical or emotional) based on actual or perceived GIE. Also, suicides of trans people which so often happen after years of trying to endure anti-trans violence (in whatever form).

3. To trans communities, I want to say:

I stand with you with all the love and support I have to give. I am honored that you have welcomed me into your vibrant and resilient community. I am humbled at the things you have taught me, not just about trans issues but about race, class, and disability. About protest, and art. About who I am and what's important to me.

4. To broader communities, I say:

Educate yourself. Think about the ripple effects that your small silences have. Also think about the ripple effects your actions as allies can have.

Get involved. Organize a Trans 101 for your group. Donate time or money to any number of trans advocacy orgs.

Stay safe. And help others stay safe. Be a bathroom buddy if you're asked. Challenge violence when you can. Be there for others, and let them know that you're listening.

DR. JILLIAN TODD WEISS said...

I remember when I thought it would be better, oh so much better, for my 4 year old cutest-little-boy- ever if I were dead. I remember when my boss told me they didn't need me anymore after I started to transition and I began to worry about where I was going to live and my friends didn't return calls anymore. I remember taking crazy risks to make contact with another human being so I could feel human too. I remember thinking "oh my god that's a gun I am going to die stay cool, stay cool." This day means a chance to remember. Anti-trans violence is part of my life. To trans communities I want to say you are my people. To broader communities I say remember you are not alone.

The Mirrorball Man said...

I asked myself: What gives me the right to post on this blog? Or even more importantly, what do transgender rights have to do with me?

I'm a man. I've known that since I was born. It seems so obvious to me. I look down, and there is the genetalia that makes me a man. How hard could this be? I figured this out when I was pretty much a toddler, and haven't had to think about it since.

Then you hit that point in your life when you realize: It's not that "easy." It wasn't that the answer was "obvous." It was that I was lucky. I was lucky to have been born with a mind that matched my body; with an implicit understanding that I am a man, and the genetalia to match that.

Or perhaps I still don't understand what it means to be "trans." What trans people go through; what feelings many of them share; what experiences many of them go through.

I used to take that as an insult. But over time, I've learned that this only means one thing: I have more to learn. And I still do. And I still work for that. And that's the beauty of life: the chance to learn. To grow. And to make sense of a complicated world.

Sex and gender are fucked up. Simply put. But we all have a stake in them, not because we should, but because society makes us. Society is filled with implicit assumptions that passive-aggressively, or sometimes aggressively, guide us. When you are born, you are told what sex you are, and you are implicitly told to "deal with it." You are told that, because of that sex, you should wear certain clothes, act certain ways, love certain people, be a certain way. In other words, you are forced to make your gender match your sex. And if you don't, you are ridiculed by your peers, told you are sinful by your religion, ostracized by your government, and demeaned in your very own society.

I remember when my father told me not to carry my school books in front of me like a girl, but rather under my arm because it was more masculine. In hindsight, I realize why my father told me this. He isn't secretly conservative, or sexist, or ignorant. He was looking out for my well-being. Because he realized that gender assumptions exist in grade school, and i could be taunted, ridiculed, and hurt for life from them.

Anti-trans violence can be physical, but it can be emotional and social too. And it took me a long time to realize that we all live under a cloud of anti-trans violence. Because every time we make an assumption abou sex or gender, we make normative assumptions rather than descriptive ones. We say how we think things should be, not how they are.

Even when I joke about myself ("I'm a gay man. Of course I love to cook, shop, etc."), I'm making gender assumptions. And when I do, I make them normative. And as they become more normative, they hurt more and more people. Becuase they tell us how to act, how to be, etc. And that often goes against the very nature of how people are. And that can hurt.

So to me, TDOR is a reminder that the problems we face are tremendous. And they may seem overpowering. But the more we open people's eyes, the more we can change society. And the more we can make this world a better place not just for trans people, but for every oppressed person, whether it be due to sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, national origin, and the list goes on and on and on...

I say it all the time on this blog, but I mean it: I'm still learning. I make mistakes: I use the wrong pronoun, I say "How could you possibly believe that??", I use the wrong words (sex vs. gender can be very confusing...), I make poor assumptions, I misstate the truth because I think I have it right when I really don't... But every time I see a post on Quench, or read a story in the newspaper, I learn. And every day I learn, I can correct one of these wrongs. And I can work to stop contributing to this cloud of anti-trans violence, because it effects us all..

So to the broader community, I say keep learning. And when people tell you that you're ignorant, or that you're wrong, don't be insulted. Don't try to defend yoursel. Don't try to prove them wrong. Instead, step back and learn something. Every new thing we learn takes us one step closer to where we should be, and that's the beauty of TDOR, of Quench, and of life.

Gunner said...

Observing National Transgender Day of Remembrance
Tuesday November 20, 2007

Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition would like to thank everyone that came out to Boston's Transgender Day of Remembrance event and Annual Town Hall Meeting this past Sunday. We would like to thank our Town Hall speakers Rep. Carl Sciortino and Chic Wagner, co-chair of MLGBA and all of the community members who spoke at Boston's TDOR including Jennifer Levi, Bliss Tylor, Bunny Caristi, Rev. Laurie Auffant, Synthia, Kit Yan, Ethan St. Pierre , Nancy Nangeroni, and Charito Suarez.

There are four TDOR events happening this evening around Massachusetts and Rhode Island and their locations are listed at the end of this email. MTPC would also like to use this observance to remind legislators and the public of the exclusion of transgender and gender variant people from Massachusetts Hate Crimes law and from local and national reporting of hate/bias motivated crimes statistics.

Yesterday, the FBI released its statistics on hate crimes for 2006. Police department across the nation reported 7,722 criminal incidents in 2006 targeting victims or property as a result of bias against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability. That was up 7.8 percent from the 7,163 incidents reported in 2005. 15.5 percent were sexual orientation bias crimes, but there are currently no statistics gathered by the FBI or many local police departments, including Massachusetts for bias/hate crimes based on gender identity or gender expression.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs Hate Crimes Report for 2006 estimates a 20% rise in hate crimes against male-to-female transgender women as reported from independent agencies tracking anti-LGBT bias/hate crimes across the country. Fenway's Violence Recovery Program ( http://www.fenwayhealth.org/site/PageServer?pagename=FCHC_srv_services_violence) is the only place in Massachusetts tracking bias motivated crimes against transgender people, but only if victims calls and reports the incident to Violence Recovery Program. In Massachusetts, hate crimes based on gender identity or gender expression are not counted in police reporting statistics because gender identity is currently not included in Massachusetts Hate Crimes law. Some bias/hate crimes against transgender or gender variant people may fall under the category of sexual orientation if anti-gay language is used, but many do not. Therefore, hate crimes against transgender and gender variant people are most likely woefully under-reported in Massachusetts contrary to the accounts and stories reported to MTPC, in transgender support groups, and to family, friends, and allies in our communities.

The pending legislation, HB 1722 "An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes", would add gender identity and gender expression to the state's current Hate Crimes law. Perpetrators of crimes that specifically target a person because of their gender identity or expression would face the same penalties as those who target people because of their race, religion, ethnicity, disability, or sexual orientation.

Please take a moment and call, email, or visit your Massachusetts State Representative and Senator (visit http://www.masstpc.org or http://www.wheredoivotema.com/bal/myelectioninfo.php to find out who your elected officials are) and let them know that today is National Transgender Day of Remembrance and here in Massachusetts we are remembering eleven known Massachusetts transgender victims of hate crimes murders: Rita Hester, Monique Rogers, Chanelle Pickett, Debra Forte, Monique Thomas, Unknown person dressed in women's clothing, and Lisa D. and the countless others who have experienced violence, harassment, and abuse for being transgender. Ask them to support HB 1722 and not to let another year go by without inclusion of gender identity and gender expression in the Massachusetts Hate Crimes law, because no one should be a target of violence based on their gender identity or gender expression.

Visit http://www.masstpc.org for more information, lobby materials on HB 1722, or to report the outcome of your phone call, email or visit to your legislator. You can also sign up to volunteer with MTPC working on the campaign to pass HB 1722 on our website.

Transgender Day of Remembrance Events:

UMass Boston Trans Day of Remembrance Event
Please join the Queer Student Center of the University of Massachusetts, Boston for the 9th annual National Transgender Day of Remembrance on Tuesday, November 20th, 2007. Beginning at 5:30 pm in the Campus Center room UL-211, members of the community will be reading their poetry and prose and displaying their art. We will close with a vigil honoring those killed in anti-transgender violence.
Date: Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Time: 5:30pm-7:00pm

Worcester TDOR Observance
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
6:00pm-8:00pm

Please join AIDS Project Worcester in raising awareness about anti- trans violence and ways we can make our city and world safe. This year's event will feature: keynote speakers, reading of the names, candle lighting ceremony, and dinner and fellowship.

Worcester Transgender Day or Remembrance 2007 will have free dinner, annual reading of the names, annual candle lighting ceremony, and a keynote speaker.

Location: 85 Green Street, Worcester, MA 01604
Contact: Joan Anderson or Jesse Pack, (508) 755-3773 or jpack25@yahoo.com

Pioneer Valley TDOR Observance
Tuesday, Nov. 20
7:00 pm
Location: The Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse in Amherst, 121 North Pleasant St., Amherst
To remember individuals who have been killed because of their gender identity/expression with community speakers from MTPC.
Co-sponsored by Stonewall Center and MTPC

Rhode Island Transgender Day of Remembrance

Lifelines Rhode Island, in collaboration with Brown University LGBTQ Resource Center and Youth Pride, Inc., invites you to join us to commemorate Trans Day of Remembrance, an internationally observed day to memorialize people who have been murdered due to anti-trans hatred or prejudice. Trans Day of Remembrance is a time to highlight the daily violence and fear with which many trans people live and to speak out against anti-trans violence.

RI Trans Day of Remembrance will include:

Tuesday Nov 20th, 6pm, Brown University Main Green*
Contact: info@lifelinesri.org or 401.369.9680
Candle light vigil. The vigil opening speakers include Y. Gavriel Ansara, Executive Director of Lifelines Rhode Island and Jodi Glass, Lifelines Board member and coordinator of The RI Commission on Prejudice and Bias (RI-CPB) Hate Crime Training Program. The speeches will be followed by candle lighting and reading of the names to remember, followed by a moment of silence to remember our dead.

Tuesday Nov 20th, 7:30pm, Hourglass Café*
TRANSCEND COFFEE HOUSE. An open mike/speak out hosted by the Brown University LGBTQ Resource Center and the student group, Queer Alliance. It is free and open to the public. Anyone who would like to speak out or perform should contact Yumi_Aikawa@brown.edu. You can share stories, you can share your writing, you can slam, or you can sing, but YOU MAY ONLY SPEAK OUT OR PERFORM ABOUT SUBJECTS THAT ARE RELEVANT TO THE HEART OF THE EVENT. The featured performer is COYOTE GRACE ( www.coyotegrace.com), a fantasmic folk-rock-blues duo from the west coast, one of whom is an open singer-songwriter of trans experience who has been active in both folk music scene as well as trans activism scene.

*Brown University Main Green can be accessed through the arch on Waterman Street at the intersection of Brown Street, or from the entrances on George Street. Faunce House is the building with the arch. The university is in the East Side of Providence.


Thank you,
Gunner Scott & Holly Ryan
Co-chairs and the steering committte of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
http://www.masstpc.org

Zoe Delay said...

its good to have a date to think about these deads.

http://zoe-delay.de/2007/11/20/day-of-remembrance/

tyro said...

I bloghopped over here from Feministing. Beautifully done.

1. For me? It's a reminder that even though I'm not trans myself, nor do I personally know any trans people, they exist and they hurt. It's a day to remind myself not to be oblivious to issues like this.

2. Any violent act (physical or psychological) directed at a trans person solely because of the fact that they are trans and therefore "weird."

3. I'd say that you people are doing a fantastic job and to keep yelling. You're being heard, slowly but surely. Keep it up.

4. Read a book, dammit. Seriously. Learn about these people you think you hate, and that hatred might fade.

Kyle said...

I also came over from feministing. There are a lot of great comments here already.


I guess what I've been thinking about for the past few days has been related to how I can mark Trans Day of Remembrance in my actions today. I won't be going to work, so I can't start a conversation about it there (at least not today), but I'm trying to be aware of it as I go through my other everyday tasks, like grocery shopping for Thanksgiving... how can I bring the lives of trans people into contact with someone I bump into in the produce section? How can I help make trans issues visible in everyday locations?


I can't fully answer those questions yet, but I will certainly be calling my trans friends to tell them how much I appreciate and love them.