Last year I wrote Photo Ops, Donations, And The Selling of Our Dead, when the Human Rights Campaign tried to hijack the Washington D.C. Transgender Day of Remembrance.
To refresh your memory, the founder of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Gwen Smith, said of the day:
“The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgendered people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.”
If my previous post seemed a little scattered and emotional, there’s a reason for it. The first trans community function I ever attended was a TDoR function, as was the first event I ever MCed outside a support group. I’ve been sensitive to transphobic violence at every step, and my own transition began with violence. But seeing the settings for it shift to schools was not something I was prepared for.
At or around November 20th of every year, the transgender community commemorates a day of remembrance (TDoR) for transgender folk who have died as a result of transphobic or homophobic violence. Since that memorial, fifteen more homicides involving transgender victims have occurred:
My partner is a nut about sales. If it isn’t on sale, it doesn’t get purchased. So sometimes, when we run out of a breakfast staple and such, I have to remind her of that basic fact of life: “sometimes, we just have to pay full price.”
And then, the phrase comes back to haunt me. This usually happens around the evenings, these days. She’s been talking about returning to work in a capacity which would take her out to job sites with contractors and crew, some of whom could know from her previous 20 years of work in that trade that she is trans. And I’ve been having troubling dreams about both that and my own job, where I’ve been back for several months with no trouble beyond the occasional rude exchange, and now all of a sudden I’m dreaming repetitively about getting shot in the head. The latter is not something I’m actually afraid of during the light of day, so I’m wondering what is bringing this all on. Am I sensing something nasty coming, or am I just reading the trans-related news way too much? And that’s when that dirty little voice says to me, “sometimes, we just have to pay full price.”
And that’s when I start thinking about how far we’ve come… or haven’t as the case may be. The first GRS surgeries were performed in the 1940s, and with the rise of Nazi Germany and its pogroms, the invention of “stealth” soon followed. We’ve been in hiding ever since. Don’t get me wrong — I’m on record as defending a woman’s and man’s right to go stealth if they feel it’s best for them. We earn that. But the wholesale movement toward stealth — the lack of barely anybody to stay behind and educate the masses — has meant that we’ve only made small strides during that time. The first known piece of trans-inclusive legislation didn’t happen until 1993, and most of those strides have been since then. And without adult transfolk there to lay that groundwork, a crisis has developed. Because now it is children on the front lines.
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