04 March 2011

Tyra Trent And The Violence of Poverty

I know it's the dead of winter and everyone's sick of it.  And some want to be cheered up.

Well, this post isn't going to do it.  But it won't contain any whining about my own issues.

Instead, it concerns something I thought about a while back.  Apparently, I'm not the only one who did.

The first time I attended a Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil--in 2002, if I recall correctly--I was shocked, but not surprised, by the number of trans people who met early and brutal deaths.  Nearly all of the victims whose names were read incurred multiple traumas, any one of which could have killed them. They were shot and then stabbed as they were bleeding to death, were bashed on the head with a baseball bat after being set on fire or chopped up after they were beaten, shot or bludgeoned.  In many of those cases, the investigators said they couldn't recall seeing any other crime so grisly.

As awful as those murders were, I thought, they were not the only violent ways in which trans people die.  There are the suicides--two of which I knew personally--and then the ones who die from the violence of drug addiction and homelessness.

Yes, I regard drug addiction and homelessness as forms of violence against those who incur them.  Some would argue that taking drugs is a choice and that anyone who really wants a job and a place to live can get them.  But things aren't quite that simple when you've been kicked out of your family after  "coming out"--after you stopped attending school because you've been beaten up too many times.  I know that almost anyone who becomes addicted to a substance--or to other things--is trying to deal with some sort of pain.   I also know that having no material resources, education or family (or some other network of people willing and able to give support)  is, too often, a recipe for homelessness.

What I have described is the reality for too many trans people.  That is something, it seems, people remembered as they were holding a memorial for Tyra Trent in Baltimore.  Her body was found in the basement of a vacant city-owned house in the Northwest part of that city.  She died of asphyxiation.

It's a terrible way to go.  So are drug addiction and homelessness, which have claimed too many lives--of transgenders and non-transgenders alike--in the area surrounding the house where Tyra Trent's body was found.  

All I hope is that if anything comes after this life, Tyra Trent will find the safety and security she couldn't have in this life.