Today is Throwback Thursday and it is also the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. This column originally ran in 2013 and since then we have lost even more lives to transphobic violence.
For reasons that will never make sense to me, there are contingents of our society who are so filled with fear, hatred and ignorance that they think a solution to their insecurities is to hurt those who don’t conform to strict traditional ideas about maleness and femaleness. At a rate of every other day, a transgender person is murdered. While estimates vary, many sources say there is a 1 in 12 chance a transwoman will be murdered; 1 in 8 if she is a person of color.
We could posit theories about what motivates these attacks- unconscious fear that if others can transcend gender lines (and give up male power to be female) then their only source of significance (male power) is not absolute and can be taken away, for instance. But people pay enough attention to those douches.
For once, let’s pay attention to the folks who were just trying to live their lives.
- Let’s think first of Rita Hester, an African American transwoman active in the Boston rock-n- roll scene whose murder in 1998 prompted the first Transgender Day of Remembrance.
- Consider Fred “FC” Martinez, Jr., the Beyonce-loving high school student from Colorado who didn’t want to have to pick between being a boy and a girl who was beaten to death in 2001.
- There was Chanelle Pickett, who faced so much on-the-job discrimination that she turned to prostitution to make a living and was was murdered by a john when he realized she was trans.
- Philadelphian Erika Keels who was ejected from a car and repeatedly run over. While investigating, police harassed Erika’s friends about their trans status and tried to insist the death was accidental and they “were trying to make something out of nothing.”
- Kyra Kruz, a 27 year old activist who was murdered in Philadelphia last September.
These stories are not told to strike fear into your heart. Instead, we are reminded of real, actual human beings who touched the lives of many and are missed to this day. We wish to remember them as they were and take care of those we care about.
What can you do to recognize this international day of remembrance? There are events all around the world you can attend, and you can learn more about those we have lost. Consider donating time or money to an organization that fights for trans rights and talk to others to raise awareness of this important issue.