20 November 2014

Transgender Day Of Remembrance 2014

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance.

If you've been following this blog for some time, you know that I commemorate this day every year, with a blog post and by participating in an event that memorializes those of us who were killed simply for being who we are--and for those who were killed because someone thought he or she was one of us.

A typical TDOR event includes a reading of victims' names and hometowns, if they are known. (Too many of us lack homes and documentation.)  I still recall reading the name of Brian McGlothlin, shot in the head with a semi-automatic rifle on a Cincinnati street by someone who hated him for wearing women's clothes.  

On the night I read his name, my gender-reassignment surgery was a little more than eight months in my future. I remember feeling that I had navigated some treacherous currents in my journey from living as a man to life as a woman, but knowing that there still could be all sorts of storms and other dangers ahead. (I didn't even know the half of it!) Even if I'd lived and worked in an environment where no one knew about--or had reason to suspect--my past, my life could still be endangered by someone who "outed" me.

I also couldn't help but to think about an old friend of mine, Corey,who committed suicide because she (I have chosen to remember her as the female she was in mind and spirit) simply could not bear the burden of having to carry herself in a man's body.  I do not mean to trivialize people like Rita Hester --whose murder in the Boston suburb of Allston in 1998 led to the first TDOR the following year--or Shelley Hiilard, Islan Nettles, Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar or Gwen Araujo when I say that I have always thought of Corey as the victim of a murder, of a hate crime. What else but the hate and hostility she encountered and feared could have driven her to hang herself from the rafters of the drafty building in which she lived?

So, while I plan to commemorate those of us who were shot, stabbbed, beaten, run over by trucks, immolated--or some or all of the above--because someone couldn't bear the thought of us being who are, I also will remember those who simply couldn't bear the hostility, the discrimination we've faced. Whether the bullets, the slashes, the beatings were inflicted by a random stranger, a date or the victim's own hand, we need to remember every one who was killed by hate and the cowardice that allows it, not only to exist, but to be directed against some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society:  those who do not follow their culture's dictates about what a person must, or must not, be because of the "M" or "F" on their birth certificates.

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