Today marks the eleventh annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to honor and grieve victims of hate and ignorance (a disproportionate amount of who are trans women of color) and a day to respect and celebrate those with us today. Read on for thoughts from the blogosphere....
The Transgender Day of Remembrance exists so that we don't get so consumed living our own lives, dealing with our own drama and fighting our own battles to live our lives that our fallen brothers and sisters fade from our consciousness. It's a vehicle to help us remind the world that the people we mourn on this day were somebody's son, daughter, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, or friend.
But what does the Transgender Day of Remembrance mean to me personally?
A Transgender Day of Remembrance is the time that this proud, African descended transwoman pauses from dealing with the hustle, bustle and drama of living my life to do as Dr. King so eloquently put it, some 'hard, solid thinking' about the transpeople whose lives were cut short due to anti-transgender violence.
I ponder the painful reality that a large segment of the people memorialized on the list are trans people of color. I lament the loss of the potential positive contributions to our societies these fallen transpeople have, would, could and should have been able to make to our various communities.
Because the thing about a day of remembrance is that it allows us to take a moment, together, as a collective, to acknowledge something. It doesn't mean that we observe a moment of silence and move on with our lives. It means that we take a moment to face something ugly and horrific and infuriating. It means that we ask people, for one day, to be in solidarity. To pause. To reflect. Because, yes, sometimes we all actually do need to stop. And think.
It means that we honor the dead, because honoring the dead is something that our culture does not do nearly enough. Our culture likes to sweep away and conceal the dead because it does not like dealing with death and grief and mourning especially when our culture knows that it is complicit in the social attitudes about trans folks which result in their deaths.
Yeah, it's uncomfortable.You know what's more uncomfortable?
Dying because you're in the "wrong" bathroom. Being beaten for flirting with the "wrong" person. Corrective rape because you aren't expressing your gender "properly." Never knowing, at any time, if you are safe, with anyone.
From Jos at Feministing:
The media's consistent failure to accurately identify trans folks reflects the erasure of and refusal to recognize our identities, lived experiences, and even our very existence. Information that identifies a murder victim as the target of anti-trans violence is often presented in the same way Martinez Matos' story has been reported: the murderer thought the victim was a woman and killed them when they realized they were actually male and panicked. This narrative erases trans identities, legitimizes perceived physical sex over gender presentation, and paints trans folks as deceptive and the murderer as tricked, suggesting possible justification for murder. Media narratives end up contributing to the culture of violence and hatred targeted towards trans folks by legitimizing this "trans panic" narrative that gives the responsibility for explaining the murder victim's identity to the very person who killed them.
In the face of a cisdominant culture that enforces false narratives to keep trans women marginalized, it is imperative we make our voices heard. I've written about this before, and I believe it is an essential process for dismantling cissupremacy. The most important voices to be heard are our dead, and the responsibility for those voices lies with those of us who are still alive. Not for cis culture to consume, not even for ourselves, but for these women who are no longer with us; By giving them dignity we give ourselves dignity, and demand it from a culture which withholds it from us. Even if it is only knowing their name or a tiny bit of their story, it gives back to them some of the humanity their killers took.
Although cisdominant media inevitably focuses on the murders of these women, pieces of the stories of their lives nonetheless get through. This is how she died is supplanted for brief moments by This is how she lived. Amplify that. Know the stories of their lives, and tell the stories of your own. Not just on November 20th, but every day.