Tonight, I will be hosting an event for this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance at the Marlborough Theatre, Brighton (full event details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/426513740877531/)
The event began in San Francisco in 1999 and now exists as a global effort to commemorate those who have been killed in the past 12 months for being, or being suspected of being, transgender.
There are 271 names on the list this year. But this won’t be the actual number, in fact we have no way of telling what that figure might be because there are large areas of the world that do not keep these records, or do not recognise a person’s transgender identity – for example we have few names from most of Africa, Asia or Russia and these are areas of the world where we know that trans people exist and we also know that they experience great oppression. So we can also suspect that there are names that have gone unrecorded.
But what we do know is that violence against the transgender community is disproportionately high and that is why today exists. We take this moment to remember those who were killed and to acknowledge that much of the violence that is addressed to trans people is directed at trans women. And in particular trans women of colour. And in particular trans women of colour who are sex workers.
But whilst we acknowledge today, it is also vital that we do not forget these things on the other 364 days of the year. As Janet Mock says: “Transgender Day of Remembrance is not a day to remember that transgender people exist”.
And not only to celebrate and highlight the existence of trans people in the media, but to celebrate all the individuals who are here and alive. Because that is a lot and it’s not easy.
To walk down the street as a transgender person is a political act. We are achieving a lot when we get out of bed in the morning. Or when we don’t get out of bed but we stay alive.
So lets celebrate.
And once a year, formally we can come together to check in and commemorate. Hopefully more of us each year commemorating fewer names and better statistics at gathering them.
But we’ve got to also work hard on those other days, especially we who have privelege.
We have to be aware of our individual privileges. If I’ve learnt anything over the past few years, it is how important and complex an idea this is.
I am aware that it is a massive privelege to hold an event like this and to stand in solidarity with the trans people who have lost their lives in the last year. rather than being someone who is just another statistic.
It is a priviledge that I don’t have to fear for my life.
It is a privelege that I enjoy the safety of governmental and legal protection (flawed though it is – something especially highlighted by the announcement last night of the death of Vicky Thompson: http://ind.pn/1S7VU2h).
It is a privelege that I have access to health care.
When we don’t have privelege in mainstream society it’s hard to remember that we probably do have it within the global picture and if we want to use these deaths as a focussing, rallying point to collectively hold one another, grieve and celebrate, then we must also do what we can the rest of the time.
As well as celebrating and remembering we’ve got to also work and fight to help support trans people. Especially those whose presence on today’s list is disproportionately high. We’ve got to celebrate them while they are alive, share their stories, listen to them, invite them to speak and invite them to dinner. We’ve got to lobby politicians, send money, write to newspapers.
If you attend a TDoR event this weekend, thank you and well done. It’s tough to be visible and we are all here.
But let’s all also pledge to also take action between now and next November 20th that might assist someone further down the privelege tree.
http://tdor.co/ – Transgender Day of Resilience
http://tdor.info – Transgender Day of Remembrance information
www.TDoR.org.uk – UK TDoR events listing
http://bit.ly/1LmUBKr – transgender resources