21 November 2009

More Remembrances

I know that yesterday's post talked about Transgender Remembrance Day and the stories of several transgenders who were murdered. However, I want to revisit the topic to discuss three more LGBT murder victims whose stories caught my eye.

Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado spent all of his 19 years in Puerto Rico. Last week, his burned and dismembered body was found on the side of a road in the town of Cayey. Dressed in women's clothes, he was picked up in a red-light district by a man who offered him money for sex. According to testimony, the man brought Jorge to his house and, upon finding out that he was a man, began beating him.

The chief police investigator said he "had it coming to him" because of his "lifestyle." And the man who beat him is pleading "gay panic."

Then there is Terri Benally, a Navajo transwoman in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was beaten to death on 7 July of this year: the very day I was undergoing my gender reassignment surgery. Perhaps this is one reason why it's probably a good thing I've had this surgery at this fairly late stage of my life: I now know that feelings of guilt are a futile reaction to a tragedy. Yes, I was getting my life--or, more precisely, I was becoming whole--on the very day someone destroyed her body.

All I can do now is to give the life I've had to create for myself as well as the one I've been given. Having two lives means living in two spirits. Maybe that's the real meaning of the term "two-spirited," which is what the Navajos called transgenders. (It's a term I sometimes use to refer to myself.) Having two spirits is what gives us the strength we need to live our lives with meaning, which is the only appropriate response to someone else losing his or her life.

Finally, I am going to mention someone whose death should give pause even to someone who doesn't care about transgenders. Ronnie Antonio Paris may not be what most people would call transgender. But his father, Ronnie Paris beat him to death for "acting like a sissy" and because he feared his child would grow up to be "less of a man."

Ronnie Antonio Paris was three years old.