Some Thoughts on Transgender Day of Remembrance 2013

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With Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) coming up next Wednesday November 20th 2013, I have always been amazed at TDOR Vigils by the apparent absence of people from the mainstream gay/lesbian commuity, their progressive allies and even sometimes cisgender people from my own bisexual community. After all, those of us who identify as transgender also identify as lesbian, or straight, or gay, or bisexual, or simply as queer-identified.

In such a diverse community, it’s easy for us to fracture into the “Gay Community”, the “Lesbian Community” ,or even the “Bisexual Community” or the “Trans* Community”. When the reality is that as a bisexual transgender affirmed woman, I am a member of BOTH the transgender and bisexual communities. When transgender people are murdered, there is a high probability that they had a SEXUAL ORIENTATION! So it really makes very little sense for any LGBTQ+ people, or any person of good will to skip a Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil simply because Gender Identity is the focus.

Some of the troubling news is that no matter what our sexual orientations are, Trans* are murdered at an alarmingly high rate; approximately every 3 days, a person in OUR community – someone who is Trans*/Gender Non-conforming AND Gay, Straight, Bisexual, Lesbian or otherwise Queer-identified is murdered brutally. And our murders are always horrific, and the ugliness of the murderers are published in ways that just are inhuman.

So, it’s difficult for me to separate our community and slice and dice the horrific murders into neat little categories.

Let me challenge your thinking: It is possible there are those who simply dismiss the whole Transgender Day of Remembrance thing as “oh that’s for *THEM*’. It’s for *THOSE* people, not me.” Today, that level of separation is something we simply cannot afford in the broad LGBTQ+ community. There are groups constantly creating that separation that spend their entire lives pressing to “other” us, diminish our civil rights, oppress us and promote violence towards us.

If we have learned nothing from the Prop 8 decision, and now the Trans* Youth oppression and hatred of the California fundamentalist conservatives and their strange bedfellows the TERF’s, then truly our community is lost. These Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist (commonly know as TERFs) are individuals and groups falsely claiming the mantel of feminism and women’s rights, but actually their purpose is to incite violence and hate towards OUR Community. Actually, they incite violence and hate towards anyone in the entire LGBTQ+ Community who will not dance to their tune, and not just the T!

Sasha was agender which is under the transgender umbrella. Due to her gender fluidity she was set on FIRE and is in the hospital. Sasha is a youth in California who is comfortable with gender fluidity and a biased youth decided to set her skirt on fire while she slept on a bus going home from high school. Sasha was a member of the entire LGBTQ+ community, not just the T.

So how does this really work? It is actually quite simple: The hate groups demonize the transgender/gender variant community and create the catalyst for the violence that affects us all. IF they can convince the mainstream Gay/Lesbian Community that the T is a fraud, and create rhetoric of hate, they can instigate conflict which results in escalations of violence. And sadly, when we are attacked or murdered, they feel like they’ve won. When they yell that we should be put in institutions or camps or call for our separation or say we should be “Stomped into a Mud-hole” and the mainstream Lesbian/Gay Media remains silent, their voice carries as a singular voice of reason in an already confused discussion concerning gender identity.

It’s that simple. When you don’t attend a TDOR Event, when you don’t honor the dead of Transgender Day of Remembrance, when you don’t go to a Vigil you are sending a message loud and clear- The T is the “other” person and people like the TERFs and fundamentalists like NOM have won.

Every single person murdered at TDOR had a sexual orientation. For the most part, the classification of trans* to the individual was only one piece of the puzzle. In Jamaica, an individual was murdered in cold blood when someone pointed them out. Within a month, the other residents that lived with the person had their HOUSE BURNED DOWN AROUND THEM!!! Here is the harsh reality: if you are connected to a trans* person- you are just as much a target and your murders and violence are going to be right next to ours!

TDOR is meant to honor our dead- honor the ENTIRE person in the community, not a fraction of that person. It’s to raise the awareness that people who have different gender expressions and who are under the trans* umbrella are brutally murdered and horrifically tortured.

This year, as the Transgender Violence Tracking Portal project is starting to get underway, I have seen a marvelous pulling together of the entire Queer Nation towards the Transgender community. With so many struggles that we all face together as a community, it seems fitting that a TDOR Vigil is the place where the internal conflicts within our groups can be set aside and as a community, we can stop and remember those who have been murdered this last 12 months.

The barriers that were erected to separate our mutual communities can be significant at times. Those barriers of misunderstanding however are much like the barriers that separate out so many other communities. Transgender Day of Remembrance is a time when we can each choose to put aside our frustrations, and remember that whether we are cis or trans* whether we are gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual or otherwise we all could easily be the next victim.

So today, if no one has asked you to go to a TDOR Event, please let me invite you to come, listen and read our names, and honor the lives that we’ve lost in Our Collective Communities.

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About Author

Allison Woolbert grew up in Silver Bell, Arizona, a remote copper mining community (now a ghost town), where she never quite fit in. She attended Abilene Christian University, where she didn’t fit in either; ended up in the US Air Force, where she definitely did not fit in; and in 2008 was introduced to the Unitarian Universalists (UU), where she finally started to feel like she fit in. She is a two-spirit bi-trans*activist, the CEO of Phoenix Consultants Group a national software development firm and the developer of the Transgender Violence Tracking Project.<

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