Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Hope for the Transgender Day of Remembrance

On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, let's remember honestly and with open eyes. Here in the USA, the names and faces of those murdered each year reveal that we are not just talking about the evil of transphobia. We are seeing a terrible and terribly clear example of intersectionality, of intersecting biases--transphobia, misogyny, racism, classism, ableism, etc.

The people who are being remembered today do not look like me. Their deaths are deeply relevant to me because they are my siblings, but as I am not a trans woman of color living on the economic margins of society it is important that I acknowledge my privileges, including the vastly lower chance that I will be murdered in an outburst of (always intersectional) transphobia. I do not wish to appropriate others' experiences to paint myself as a martyr by proxy.

People who are cis gender, or male, or white, or middle-class, or living without disabilities should mourn our fallen trans siblings. But if we do so without focusing on our duty to the living, our memorials mean little. Treating murdered trans women of color as pitiful martyrs at ceremonies where living, breathing trans women of color feel unwelcome, or nervously tolerated, or denied agency to be lead partners in directing the event, or are in fact totally absent because "nobody knows any". . . that illustrates the extent to which the participants are part of the problem.

Because the problem is not just "out there" in the cis, straight community. The problem of transmisogyny, especially as it intersects with racism, classism, ableism and other biases, is alive and well in LGBTQ+ communities. It's easy to revile the evil of those who murder the most marginalized among us. It's much harder to own our own privileges and take responsibility for our participation in perpetuating marginalization. All of us--every single one--has some sort of privilege. It's easy for us to focus on the ways in which we are ourselves marginalized, but it's when we examine and own our privileges, and take action based upon that, that the truly transformative things happen.

I hope that this TDOR, we all reflect, not just on the lives of the fallen, but on what we personally can do to reduce the marginalization of the living.