Sunday, November 20, 2011

Trans Day of Remembrance

Some of my closest friends are trans and/or genderqueer. A handful of my lovers have been trans and/or genderqueer. I can't imagine what I would do if one of them was violently attacked, or worse, killed. My heart hurts, just thinking about it.

It happens all the time, though. I can't imagine the fear many of them feel when trying to navigate the simplest of tasks -- putting down a credit card for a meal (which is a nightmare when your name doesn't match your gender); using a public restroom; even walking through the French Quarter alone. Their fear is justified. Whether the persecution, criticism, or harassment comes from strangers, the police, the media, family members, or partners... it's equally damaging and unnecessary. 

My heart goes out to all those we've lost, whether by murder or suicide. My heart goes out to the families, friends, and partners of those we've lost. 

I want to live in a society where no one is harassed, persecuted, or killed for their gender expression and gender identity. I want to live in a society where no one feels like suicide is a better option than life. 

A commenter on Autostraddle made a really great point that I want to emphasize here:

"A few years ago at a Trans Day of Remembrance event I attended, someone I knew gave a short speech about what it means to be safe–not just physically but also in your own relationships, bodies, communities, etc.–and about how queer people have to look out for each other. We have to stand up for each other and protect each other, because clearly it can be a dangerous world for some folks, especially trans women of color. We have to fight for laws that respect and protect ALL of us.

What does safety mean on a personal level? If your trans* friend is heading home from a bar or party or somewhere, you could offer to drive or walk them home. If someone discloses that they’re trans, honor and use their preferred names, pronouns, identities–but also ask which words to use in which contexts, so you don’t accidentally out them or put them in difficult situations. If you’re dating someone new, respect their boundaries and identities and find out what’s okay with them. If someone uses transphobic language–even a queer person–call them out on it.

Those actions may not make up for the sad losses of any trans* people being remembered today, but they might help protect someone else from facing the same fate."

I would add a few -- offer to go with a trans friend to a doctor's appointment, if they are feeling nervous. Offer to escort them to the bathroom, and stand protection outside the door if you're in a public place. If you know someone who is coming out, offer to introduce them to other queer and trans people in the community who can provide support and community. Connect them to resources or people who can provide resources. Model appropriate language. I find that many people want to be respectful, but don't know how to ask what pronoun someone would prefer, or don't know that "transgender" is an adjective, not a noun.

See also: This Advocate piece.

As a friend posted on FB, "In the words of Mother Jones, 'Pray for the dead, but fight like hell for the living.'"

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