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Transgender Day of Remembrance 2009

Today is the 11th Transgender Day of Remembrance, as you may remember from Helen G’s post on Tuesday. It’s a day for people to remember all of those who have been killed by transphobic hatred and violence. This year alone (between 20th November 2008 and 12th November 2009), there have been 162 murders of trans folk according to a press release from Transgender Europe (hat-tip to Helen G for this link).
Here’s a little background information about today from the International Transgender Day of Remembrance’s website:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
Transgender people are hurt, attacked and killed very often because of something the law refers to as “trans panic” – when someone (pretty much always cis) claims he acted out of ‘temporary insanity’:
In the gay panic defense [as with the trans panic defense], the defendant claims that he or she has been the object of romantic or sexual advances by the victim. The defendant finds the advances so offensive and frightening that it brings on a psychotic state characterized by unusual violence.
This disgusts me. These are hate crimes through and through, there is no defense. And think for young trans women learning and experimenting with their sexuality through to adult trans women who are doing what everyone does or wants to do – connecting with people, falling in love, falling in lust: the things that cis folk take for granted, all the pleasures of learing about another, having a crush on another, the physical aspect: growing close, discovering the body of someone one is attracted to – all those fucking glorious things that everyone does and what cis folk take for granted – look at the danger it brings trans folk, that this simple pleasure comes with such a price.
And what happens when an assault or murder takes place? Or, more accurately, what happens when society notices that an assault or muder has taken place? The victim continues to be disrespected and himiliated. As I said, the attacker is often excused by ‘trans panic’, the fact that it is an evil, violent hate crime is pushed aside if it is even acknowledged at all. The media misgender the victim, hell, even the police (who ought to fucking know better) refer to the victim as “he” for “she” and vice versa, or even worse – “it”.
Cis people need to learn about these issues. The best advice I can give as a supporter of trans women who is only beginning to learn is to listen. There are a whole host of bloggers out there to listen to – Helen G, Lisa Harney and Queen Emily of Questioning Transphibia, Voz and Recursive Paradox. Read them and look through their blogrolls, check out their posts of cis privilege. And if they’re writing about violence against women don’t interrupt and ask what “cis” means, look stuff up for yourself – you can learn from these women but their role in life is not to teach cis people how to be better people. To quote again from the TDOR site – “we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers”. We should be standing shoulder to shoulder, not ignoring and denying their right to existence. Start by educating yourself about today, Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Cross-posted at Dirty Silver.

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This entry was posted on 20 November, 2009 by in Uncategorized.
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