Today, 20 November 2009, marks the Eleventh Annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s the day that we set aside to commemorate the lives of people murdered due to trans hate and discrimination and prejudice. This year, we know of one hundred sixty-two persons who have been killed because they were trans* or were perceived by their killers as trans*. (Link to the T-DOR 2009 materials in English at the Transgender Day of Remembrance Website.) We don’t know — can’t know — the names of everyone who has been killed.
It doesn’t matter. Every murder hurts us. Every life stolen because we — everyone outside the cis binary, whether trans or intersex or nonbinary or any or all of those (I will be using trans* as a shorthand for this) — are seen as less than is precious and irreplaceable. We mourn for those who are gone. We grieve with the people who were closest to them. (Thanks to Chally for finding Queen Emily’s post from T-DOR 2008 on How to Mourn.)
I personally am angry. All over the world, in every society, we are there and we are dying. Because we are still seen as less than, as mistakes, as inherently deceptive, as the butt of every cruel man-in-a-dress joke, as freaks. Our genitals are viewed as substandard facsimiles at best, our sexualities are commodified and sold when they are considered at all. We are discriminated against in employment and housing, in immigration and criminal justice, in airplane travel, in language. Our medical needs are routinely denied coverage by insurance providers in the United States — even those needs which would be covered, if the insured were a cis person — and can be difficult to obtain even in countries which provide health care to their citizens. Worst of all we are dying because people feel entitled to kill us. Because we are who we are, there are people who feel we deserve to die.
So I am proudly out as a trans* woman with a disability here. (There are many of us who are trans* and disabled. Our bodies are freighted with meaning.) So I am not out in other parts of my life. In those parts I have to hope I pass and fear that I won’t. I want this space to be a safe space for everyone outside the cis binary. Not just for me though I need safe spaces too. It needs to be safe for the people who aren’t comfortable being out. That means no policing of gender identities. Just as no one has to prove their disability here, no one has to prove their gender or to have a gender at all.
Please help us remember those who are gone, and help us make our parts of the world safer for those who are still here.