Transgender Day of Remembrance
Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Every year, trans people are murdered for no reason other than that they are trans. Since last November, around 180 new names have been added to the lists of those who have died. Most were women, most were black or Latin@, most were poor, many were sex workers; the continuing toll that murderous hate crime takes on trans people is overwhelmingly borne by the most marginalised people in an already marginalised population.
The reported murders are the tip of the iceberg. There will be plenty of people whose deaths did not make enough waves for them to be preserved on the Web. And for every trans person who has died for no reason other than that they were trans, there are many being subjected to abuse and harassment – on the street, in the workplace, in the hospital, in prison – all over the world.
Those are the facts. I don’t feel that I have anything much more to say; as a cis person, I don’t have the right to pontificate on the meaning of the day. The other point I was going to make has already been made, far more clearly and far more fiercely than I could, by Cara at The Curvature:
It’s up to us, cis folks, to stop treating this like it’s not “our” issue. It’s up to us to stop making anti-trans jokes, to stop treating gender like a binary, to stop using anti-trans slurs, to stop defining gender by genitals and reproductive capacity, to stop misgendering with wrong names and pronouns, to stop denying access to medical care and domestic violence shelters, to stop making “woman-only” spaces that are trans-exclusive. Just as importantly, it’s time to start speaking up whenever we see other people do these things, instead of waiting for trans* folks to do it themselves. Because while speaking out is not always 100% safe for cis people, it is a million times more likely to be safe for us than it is for those who are trans*.
It’s up to the cis folk to be part of the solution. If we aren’t – if we remain silent and accept the benefits that cisness sends our way, without acknowledging that the cost is real and trans people are paying it – we are part of the problem.
Today, that means using my little bit of the Internet as a bridge to the parts where the people to whom this day belongs are speaking. If you clicked through to this post prepared to spend fifteen or twenty minutes with it, please use that time to read some or all of these posts instead.
This is for those who’ve been denied, deprived, side-lined, marginalised and told to get sanitised. Those who’ve been used, abused, misplaced, defaced, displaced.
You learn very quickly that you are not valuable, you are despised, disposable, always in a precarious position (especially with regard to institutions). Every time you have to show your identification and it has the wrong sex, every time you have a cold and your voice has dropped to a gravelly rasp. You never really know when it might come, or how bad it might be.
Never mind how we rarely don’t declare our transness to our lovers for this reason, and how often it turns out to have been something the person had known for ages, and how our murders are less about “surprise” than about the fact that we are not considered valuable, barely considered human. And that the presumptions about gender, sexuality and race you have made all along have contributed to this general cultural climate of trans disposability, which too makes sense, which is why you deny jobs and homeless shelters and housing and even in prison you chuck us into the wrong prison. No wonder you identify with murderers.
A knife’s edge separates almost every trans person in the world from success and failure–or even death. Here, a successful trans woman lives in fear of her colleagues finding out about her history; there, a trans man worries that he will be the first fired when the economy worsens; everywhere, encounters with even the most routine items of daily life take on a risk, an uncertainty, that cis people probably never think about.
And, last but most important, the list of the dead.
Requiescant in pace.