Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR)Posted: November 21, 2011
Trigger warning: anti-trans hatred, violence.
Today is the 13th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), a day set aside to remember people who have been killed due to anti-trans violence. The numbers are staggering. This year there are 221 people to be mourned, and those are just the murders that have been recorded. The actual toll is certainly higher. Most of the victims of anti-trans murders are women of color. Most of these murders go unsolved.
And then there’s the additional violence that victims of anti-trans murders often experience after death – like news reports and family reminiscences (or condemnations) that deny and erase their true gender, refuse to recognize their true names, sexualize or fetishize their gender, and implicitly or explicitly blame them for somehow bringing their deaths on themselves.
We live in a world where any kind of gender nonconformity is, in many if not most societies, violently marginalized and suppressed. Where orthodoxies of gender are so tightly held to that anyone who challenges them is painted as somehow less than human, deserving of humiliation and ostracization, simply for existing. This is ultimately what transphobic violence and prejudice are about. Anti-trans murders, and the misgendering and lies about trans lives that so often follow them, erase in different ways the existence and experiences of trans people. They are actions informed by the belief that trans people simply can’t or shouldn’t exist.
TDoR is about fighting that erasure, and the ease and silence with which our society accepts the murder of trans people. It’s about saying that trans people exist, on their own terms. That the lives and deaths of trans people matter. That trans people are human beings and every human being deserves full and equal rights and dignity.
Combatting anti-trans hate and the violence and oppression it spawns takes more than one day a year. Indeed, it’s a fight that trans people face head on every single day. But if you are cis and don’t know much about trans issues, or haven’t thought much about it – you can start changing that today. You can start by taking some time to mourn and feel the loss of people society claims are dispensable. Read a post about TDoR. Educate yourself by seeking out and listening to (not demanding an education or special attention from) trans people. Learn how you can come alongside trans people, not as a savior riding in to rescue anyone from oppression, but from a place that respects and centers them as the experts on their own lived experience, and the leaders in their own struggle for equality.
Listening to people who actually live with an oppression is a good first step. Here are a some of the voices I’ve been listening to on TDoR today:
National Center for Transgender Equality: Remembering our Dead
Janet Mock: A Letter of Blessings to my 16-Year-Old-Self
The names continue to scroll in my heart and the hearts of other trans people, their loved ones and allies. I can’t forget their faces. They remind me in an instant how lucky I was to get out of that car (and many others to come) as I navigated my journey to womanhood, as I became the person I am now counting my blessings that I never came face to face with this type of wretched, deathly hate and ignorance and intolerance. And it also makes me mourn, mourn the fact that I have to say that I was lucky to have survived that date, to acknowledge that we live in a world where a 16-year-old girl would have to fear being beat for being exactly who she is.
I’ve come out – after years of people telling me to stay stealth, to live in anonymity, to safely hide where I’ve been – because we are not shadows, we are not bodies, we are people. These young girls were people’s daughters, young people who were loved. And in an instant, a lethal mix of transphobia, misogyny and our society’s disposable culture took them away from people who loved them.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is about never forgetting, never forgetting that Gwen, Stephanie, Ukea, Shelley and hundreds of others are you. You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you’ve been.
I saw this video a while back. It was a bit of fundy propaganda, starting with the phrase, “This is what you will see all across the country, unless this radical movement is stopped!” This was followed by footage of trans people, at a trans conference, doing… well, extremely mundane things, really. Walking around, riding elevators, going to the bathroom, eating, and so on.
I wish I could express to you just what it is like to go through life knowing that society itself doesn’t want either you or the people you love the most to exist. Knowing that your own (biological) family doesn’t want your kind to exist. Knowing that some of the most powerful religious and political institutions in the world don’t want you and yours to exist. Knowing that even many queer people don’t want you and yours to exist, because your existence is politically inconvenient for them. Knowing that (if you’re a woman) patriarchy won’t even allow you the few small dignities it usually leaves to objectified women, instead allowing you to exist as nothing more than a fetish to be enjoyed in shame by men and destroyed if there’s any chance of anyone finding out.
Sass Rogando Sasot, via Transgriot: Let Each Name
These names represent lives that matter and they should matter, for these names represent people who were somebody’s children, partners, friends, siblings, students, teachers, workers, citizens! So as we recite these names, we are calling on all institutions – from the families to schools to religions to governments, from Amsterdam to Ankara, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe – we are calling on everyone, everywhere to reclaim compassion from hate, to reclaim care from apathy, and to reclaim everyday kindness from transphobia.