I’m speaking tonight at a Transgender Day of Remembrance event for the first time. I’ve been reluctant to speak at one for a long time because, as I’ve written in the past, I find it depressing that transphobic violence is the most visible face of the trans community, which is otherwise a community of outstanding talent, energy, humor and beauty. As an ally, I am creeped out by the idea that many people first come into contact with trans people via violence and murder. I am suspicious of the exploitation of trans people by LGB groups who don’t otherwise pay our community much notice.
Not remembering, for most of us involved in trans politics or activism, is not possible. There are too many deaths every year, & too many of us are touched personally by a death. Most of us have faced at least the threat of violence and all of us worry about it.
I am also hesitant about the privilege expressed on TDOR: that those murdered are often not just trans but are people of color, and many, as well, are involved in sex work or are otherwise working class. Employment discrimination, racism, and other aspects of otherness work together to create an atmosphere where some lives are valued more than others, and plenty of trans people live lives of remarkable privilege.
And cis allies, sadly, can often be unaware of exactly how much privilege being not trans is.
That’s some of what I’ll talk about tonight.
All of that said, I am touched and amazed at how well-known TDOR is these days: numerous students, friends, and organizations have written or posted something on Facebook and blogs to mark the day and remember those we’ve lost. And that, ultimately, is the kind of cultural recognition that’s important, as long as it doesn’t end there.