Today marks the memorial for all my trans brothers and sisters killed during the previous year. It is also the culmination of Transgender Awareness Week. It is a difficult time for the trans community.
Transgender Day of Remembrance was started in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, and it has grown exponentially since then. In 2010, it was reported that 185 cities and 20 countries hosted a commemoration. I first participated in TDoR my sophomore year of college when my friend, Bryce, and I held an informal vigil. We set up an information table in the student union building all day and then held the vigil that night.
TDoR is not a celebratory event. It is a very somber one. This is a day to remember those who lost their lives simply for being trans. This is a day for the cisgender majority to be with us and to let us grieve. The day is not for learning about what it means to be trans, to be curious, or to put us under your microscope. It also a day of anger.
The event serves to highlight the inequity of trans lives. Most of the trans people who were killed this year happened to be poor women of color. I, as a white lower middle class woman, need to listen just as much as my cisgender allies. How do we prevent future violence? How do we save my sisters?
The answer is not easy. We need to make this world a better and more welcoming place. We need to support everyone regardless of gender. We need to make gender transition easier. We need to offer more equitable and accessible healthcare. We need to stop treating gender non-conforming individuals like we are sick, sinners, or wrongs that need correcting. We especially need to make it easier for transchildren. We need to make schools safe spaces again. Promoting equality is hard, but it can be achieved.
We need to make sure the police work for us and not against us. The amount of transwomen accused of prostitution just for being trans will astound you. These women are also the most at risk for becoming another victim on this sad list of remembrance. Transwomen are forced into sex work because of the inequality I have mentioned. Attaining correct documents, affordable housing, or just finding a job is hard enough. When transwomen are incarcerated in male prisons, something is broken. Cisgender people need to stop considering transwomen anything other than women. We are not perverts, we are not child molesters. We are your friends, daughters, teachers, nurses, and bankers.
This event is something that shouldn’t happen. I hope you will join me in remembrance as we move forward and help to make this world a place where we don’t have to read about my sisters and brothers being killed every year.