Archive for the ‘Transgender Day of Remembrance’ tag
Every year, on November 20, many people – cis people as well as trans people – observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Trans people are 16 times more likely to be murdered than the general population, and 1-2 trans people are murdered every month. So far, the TDOR website lists 18 names:
Kellie Telesford, Brian McGlothlin, Gabriela Alejandra Albornoz, Patrick Murphy, Adolphus Simmons, Phaedra, Ashley Sweeney, Sanesha Stewart, Lawrence King, Simmie Williams Jr., Luna, Lloyd Nixon, Felicia Melton-Smyth, Silvana Berisha, Ebony Whitaker, Rosa Pazos, Angie Zapata, and Jaylynn L. Namauu.
Names not yet added to the list include Ruby Molina and Nikki Williams.
For 10 years, our community has gathered to remember our dead on November 20th.
So, enter GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, proposing TransAction!,
TransAction! – November 21, 2008
GLSEN is proud to be sponsoring a new national day of action: TransAction! This is a day for action, a day for education, celebration, and a day for people who do not identify as transgender to become an ally and stand up for the rights of individuals who have been the victims of harassment, bullying and name-calling because of their gender identity and/or gender expression.
Now, I think suggesting a day like this is by itself not a bad thing, but doing it the day after the Day of Remembrance is in incredibly poor taste, and smacks of allies speaking for trans people. I could be wrong, and trans people might be involved in planning/proposing this day… but even so, November 21st is the wrong day. Further, on Washington State’s GLSEN page,
11/21/2008, TransAction (Formerly Trans Day of Remembrance)
People who want to become an ally and stand up for the rights of trans people who have been the victims of harassment, bullying, and name-calling because of their gender identity and/or expression shouldn’t be doing this. Trans people have been doing the Day of Remembrance for 10 years. Don’t claim to replace the TDOR. Don’t put your day of celebration on the day after DOR. This isn’t solidarity, it’s appropriation. It’s walking all over what trans people are already doing.
Contact info: email@example.com or 212-727-0135
Holly posted this story about the Transgender Day of Remembrance and Thanksgiving on Feminist.
Drakyn posted recently about Heart’s/womensspace’s snipe at the Transgender Day of Remembrance:
“My gut, experience, knowledge tell me that the group of persons which will receive the absolute least sympathy and concern is female persons. We are trafficked, prostituted, enslaved, raped, all of the time by all sorts of men, ho hum, no big deal. But if it’s a boy or a transgender person, suddenly that’s a whole nother level.”
As I said in Drakyn’s discussion:
There are some lines cis women shouldn’t cross. You can participate in the Day of Remembrance, or you can ignore it, but don’t you dare begrudge it.
We have the Transgender Day of Remembrance is because it is a whole ‘nother level when a trans person is killed. A level down. As in trans panic defense actually working, as in massive victim blaming, as in society seeing trans lives as disposable. As in the murders being a matter of brutal overkill. I am not sure what world Heart lives on, but it’s not one where trans lives are valued over cis women’s lives.
Unfortunately, Heart sees everything trans women gain as something stolen from her – from all cis women. She accuses us of appropriating and colonizing womanhood, but she uses both words inappropriately. Talking about colonization the way she does is appropriation: If trans women aren’t marching on Women’s Country, with guns, sabers, diseased blankets and a mandatory religion, using “colonization” in this context is naked appropriation. You don’t colonize by becoming, you colonize by dominating, disenfranchising, othering, enslaving, and murdering.
While I wouldn’t accuse Heart of trying to colonize trans women experiences (she wants to deny that our experiences are valid, not claim them for her own – she only appropriates cis women experiences), she does try to dominate, disenfranchize, and other trans women whenever possible. She aggressively shouts us down when we claim to have experiences in common with cis women. She tells us that we’re not allowed to use goddess symbolism, she insists (sometimes) that we are men, or acting as men, or acting on male privilege. Further, she cheers on regular posters who make even more outrageous and transphobic statements, while claiming all along that she doesn’t believe or think those things because she never said them.
But she whines that trans people dare to remember our dead.
The story in de profundis is familiar to me – I am positive I heard about it on the news, or from the online LGBT community, or both. It reminds me that I really need to write about how trans people are treated in prison, because it’s beyond inhumane.
Adding more posts by Monica Roberts.
The first is Chanelle Pickett’s story, showing just how little trans women are valued when we are murdered, and how important it is for ENDA to have gender protections. As I’ve asked before: How many trans people have to die before we’ve sacrified enough blood to be worthy of civil rights?
The second is TDOR..My Thoughts:
We’ve been ‘gayjacked’ out of an ENDA bill that our community desperately needs and told because we fought tooth and nail to stay in it, we’re going to get frozen out of federal civil rights legislation until 2013. We also paid $20K of hard earned T-bills for the privilege of getting screwed by HRC, and we already have some elements of the transgender community with short memories trying to say that we need to work with an organization that repeatedly screws us. Here in Louisville the JCPS is prepared to go forward with protections for GLB workers, but not transgender ones as the Forces of Intolerance gear up their faith based hatred and lies to stop it.
The third is And Now, a Word from an Ally, Ten Reasons the Women’s Center Observes the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
I don’t have the means to attend any Day of Remembrance gatherings. I wish I did.
I’ve been verbally assaulted about being trans a few times in my life. A couple was looking for help getting into a motel and needed a credit card. I didn’t have a credit card and said so, and the man became angry, and started accusing me of racism and screaming about how I was really a man. His girlfriend calmed him down, got him away and apologized. I don’t blame him for the racism accusation, and I understand his frustration in trying to find a place to stay, even for a night. Still, when he started calling me a faggot and a shemale, I was terrified for my life. We were standing on a busy street, but I didn’t feel safe, I didn’t feel any expectation that if something happened, anyone would stop it. When the words cross that line – what I am instead of what I’ve done, there is no safety. I’m now the other, an unperson, a subhuman, an “it.”
Another time, in a lesbian bar which I’d been to many times, several gay men started approaching me, complimenting me on how well I pulled off drag. I wasn’t dressed like a drag queen, although I was wearing leather. I found later that one of the women I’d gone to the bar with had basically asked multiple guys to do this. After the third man – this one complimenting me on my breast implants, and I don’t have breast implants – approached me, I started to feel claustrophobic and panicked. I knew I was being targeted, and I knew that any space – no matter how safe it looked – could turn hostile at any moment, and I immediately left. When I don’t feel safe, it becomes a matter of life and death. I know what people can do, and I know that once I’m identified as trans, my personhood is no longer a given.
I’ve had the police called on me for using a woman’s restroom – a restroom I had used repeatedly over the years before, in a local Shari’s. Just this one time, someone who saw me perceived that I was trans. Thankfully, the “F” on my ID card warded me from any problems that time, but violence could have easily ensued if the person who saw me reacted differently.
For me, as a trans woman who is seen as a cis woman much of the time, no place is safe. Anyone at any moment might read me as trans, might get angry at something I did or they think I did, and attack me for both being trans and having the gall to assert myself as their equal. No matter how safe a place appears, it can turn against me at any moment. This is something I have to worry about in addition to the threats cis and trans women have to worry about – getting sexually harassed, stalked, raped.
Whenever anything happens, I always worry that because I’m a trans woman, the confrontation might escalate just because I’m seen as disposable, as compared to a cis woman. Because violence done to me would not be as awful as violence done to a real person. When a trans woman is murdered, cis people often get into blaming the victim – it was her fault for getting into that situation, it was her fault for putting herself into a vulnerable position. That tells me that my fears – where no physical violence has happened yet – aren’t even worth mentioning, let alone valid. Obviously, if something does happen, I obviously brought it upon myself for walking down the street.
This really isn’t easy to write – I suck at talking about my fears and anxieties. I know that I’ve had it relatively easy, and some might say that my inability to feel safe is just a sign of me being oversensitive, but I don’t think it is. I think that looking how I’ve avoided , that my lack of a sense of safety should be a sign of how bad things can be. That the slurs and slights I deal with really are only a hair’s breadth from actual violence.
Venus Envy’s strip hit me particularly hard, but you should read all of them.
TG Day of Remembrance
So today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. To commemorate it, I wrote a piece called There’s Something About “Deception” which was posted on Feministing.com yesterday – it touches on the myth of deception and violence directed against trans people. That got me thinking about an old piece that appears in my first poetry chapbook called Either/Or. The piece was called “scared to death” – here it is…
scared to death
[author’s note: I specifically wrote this piece for, and first performed it on, the fourth annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20, 2003). I dedicated it to the twenty-five people who were murdered that year for being transgendered]
few people make it through high school
without having at least one classmate commit suicide
for me, it was tony newman
in eleventh grade
he locked himself in the garage
with the car running
the act seemed so unlike him
he was one of the few popular kids
who everyone genuinely liked
and every time i saw him
he was either laughing
or making someone else laugh
apparently, he never spoke about being depressed
and he didn’t leave a note
so the reason he took his own life
remained a mystery
it lingered like a lump in people’s throats
i had a theory
that i never shared with anyone
i wondered whether tony felt like i did
i was transgendered
although at the time
i didn’t have a word for it
but i was good enough at math
to know that statistically
there had to be at least a few other people
keeping the same secret
and i don’t know if tony was transgendered
but i put two and two together
because i knew
that suicide had crossed my mind
a few hundred times
and i knew
that i’d rather be dead
than be caught dressed as a girl
and i knew
how much it hurt
to have thoughts that you don’t want
but you can’t turn off
and now i know
that this is nothing new
there are statistics that suggest
that up to 50 percent of transgendered people
try to end their life
if not by suicide, then indirectly through substance abuse
and everyday i consider myself lucky
to have made it this far
i still feel like i’m only one step away from the grave
because once every two weeks
someone like me is murdered
for being transgendered
and these are no unfortunate accidents
no victims of circumstance
are almost always beating beyond recognition
these are attempts at total obliteration
and i can’t help but wonder whether i am next
because at least once a week
i get up on stage and out myself
in songs and spoken word pieces
and i worry that this makes me a target
because all it takes is one asshole in the audience
who feels that his manhood
is threatened by my mere existence
but i remind myself
that there are many ways to die
and the slowest
most torturous one of all
is being scared to death
because being intimidated into silence
is like being suffocated
in both cases
someone else is taking your last breath
so tonight i speak
on behalf of an entire endangered species
because i know
that silence really does equal death
and i know
that the only thing that stops injustice is protest
and my words are a tribute
to every transgendered voice that has been silenced
whether by suicide
or those who are still alive
but frightened into keeping quiet
and i hope
that this piece will be
one of a million small acts
to fighting back
Elizabeth McClung of Screw Bronze posts about the sheer violence trans people suffer.
So here is what I wish people would remember; that in the western world, no other group has a higher murder rate than transgender individuals. And t-women usually aren’t murdered, they are lynched. We don’t like to think that lynching goes on in Canada, the USA, and the UK but it does. You could put up a scaffold in front of the Capitol, and hang a transitioning woman on it and tell the police, “I had a sex with………it, I didn’t know what I was doing” and you have a 50% chance of getting off, and at least some sort of reduced sentence.
Julia Serano posts There’s Something About Deception at Feministing.
Much of the violence that is directed at trans people is predicated on the myth of deception. For example, straight men who become attracted to trans women sometimes erupt into homophobic/transphobic rage and violence upon discovering that the woman in question was born male.
Some of you may be wondering why and how the TDOR which is happening in venues all over the world today got started. To know the present situation, we’re going to go back to the past, specifically November 1998.
The Boston transgender community had already been reeling over the brutal deaths of three other local transwomen, 23 year old Chanelle Pickett in November 1995, Deborah Forte (the aunt of TDOR co-coordinator and radio podcast host Ethan St. Pierre) and the September 11, 1998 one of Monique Thomas.
Monica also posts Gwen Smith and the TDOR Story.
Gwen Smith never set out to be a transgender activist, but now she embraces the term. “I really take pride in being called a transgender activist because I’m trying to really create activism, create advocacy around the issue and around transgender issues,” she said.
Smith is the founder of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day that is observed worldwide in nearly 100 different locations to remember the large number of transgender people who are murdered every year as a result of anti-trans bias.
And finally, Monica tells the HRC to keep their moneygrubbing mitts off of TDOR. Fortunately, they cancelled their DC event, but they still host others. If they’re unwilling to support an inclusive ENDA, they have no business using our dead to raise funds for their activism.
Daimeon at Pam’s House Blend has posted a list of TDOR vigils.
One item I found of interest in said post was that HRC canceled its scheduled event at HRC headquarters:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2007
Brad Luna | Phone: 202/216.1514 | Cell: 202/812.8140
Trevor Thomas | Phone: 202/216.1547 | Cell: 202/250.9758
Human Rights Campaign Joins in Support of National Transgender Day of Remembrance
In Lieu of Holding its Own Event, HRC Urges Community to Attend Whitman-Walker Event
WASHINGTON – Events marking the 9th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance tomorrow, November 20, designed to honor the memories of our transgender sisters and brothers lost to hate violence, will be taking place throughout the country and locally in Washington, D.C. In lieu of holding its own event, the Human Rights Campaign is asking its staff, volunteers, and other members of the community to be actively involved in Transgender Day of Remembrance activities throughout the country. In Washington, D.C., HRC will participate in an event at the Whitman-Walker Clinic, 1407 S Street NW.
HRC will not be holding an event at its Rhode Island Ave. headquarters, as previously reported.
In honor of the day, the Human Rights Campaign released two special video messages from transgender ministers Drew Phoenix, pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Baltimore, MD and Presbyterian minister Rev. Erin Swenson of Atlanta, GA.
The video messages produced by HRC are available for viewing on our blog, HRC Back Story: http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2007/11/special-message.html
Additional information on the Whitman-Walker event:
WHAT: 9th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance to commemorate transgender people and loved ones who have died due to hate violence.
WHO: Observance is sponsored by DC Trans Coalition, DCATS, International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE), Latin@s en Accion, MAGIC, National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), Transgender Education Association (TGEA), Transgender Health Empowerment, DC Black Pride, DC Coalition of Black GLBT Men and Women, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Whitman Walker Clinic
WHERE: Whitman Walker Clinic
1407 S Street, N.W
WHEN: 6 p.m. to 8p.m., Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Note: Candle light observance will start promptly at 6 p.m.
WHY: The Transgender Day of Remembrance memorializes those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
Megan Julca has lots of links through here.