20 November 2013

Recovered From A Trash Can

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance.

This day was first commemorated in 1999,one year after African-American transwoman Rita Hester was found murdered in Allston, a suburb of Boston.  

Since then, hundreds of other trans people have become homicide victims.  Most of them--92 percent, to be exact--share something with Ms. Hester:  their killings have not been solved.  

One such murder is emblematic of the reasons why we have TDR and why we have to continue to draw attention to the ways in which we are killed, and the official response--or lack thereof.

On 8 November--less than two weeks ago--a woman's body was found in a trash can in Detroit.  While investigators do not have her name or other details of her life and death, they have identified her as a trans woman.

A woman and her son found the body when they were scavenging for cans, bottles and other scraps.  They made their gruesome discovery behind a bar.

From what you've read so far, you may have guessed--correctly--that the body was that of an African-American trans woman.  That, the way she was disposed and the way her body was discovered tell you much about the dangers we face, and the undignified ways in which we are treated in life and death.

I can hope only that someone gives her the honor and dignity in death that she did not experience in life--during the last moments of it, anyway--and that Detroit police are more diligent in investigating her murder than too many other law enforcement officials in other places are when the victim is a trans person.

After all, even though she--and Islan Nettles of Harlem--are trans women who were murdered, not all anti-transgender violence happens to people because they are transgendered or even to people who are transgendered.  You see, someone who kills someone over gender identity makes a judgment on his or victim's identity and decides that person is somehow lacking.  So a man who is not deemed "masculine" enough or a woman who doesn't seem sufficiently "feminine" can fall victim in exactly the same way as someone who is indeed known to be transgendered.  It almost goes without saying that someone who cross-dresses in public can meet a similar fate.

So, on Transgender Day of Remembrance, we're not only mourning people like Rita Hester, Gwen Araujo, Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar, Islan Nettles and the woman whose body was found in a Detroit trash can.  Rather, we are acknowledging the fact that someone who doesn't fit into someone else's notion about gender can end up in a trash can behind a bar.

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