#saytheirnames – Three Trans Deaths This Past Weekend

I mean to distract you from your online bickering for a moment.

This weekend, three trans people of color were reported murdered – one in Arizona, one in Detroit, one in North Carolina. They had nothing else in common from what I can tell, but for being at that fatal intersection of identity that is being black and trans.

The murders this year in the US are already greater than the total number for 2014.

The deaths are always gruesome, cold-blooded, but often intimate and overkill. And when I hear a new report I think: this is never just transphobia at work, but racism and patriarchy, too – patriarchy because violence is still seen as some kind of legitimate response to a threat. Look at the “but he was threatening” defenses of armed cops who have killed unarmed people. These murders are the worst excesses of patriarchy.

Then I read something like this piece, about feminists trying to get at questions of gender construction – what is gender, how we define it, how we “make sense” of the gender of trans people as feminists who only defined gender as a system of oppression. Like many feminists of my era, my reluctance toward femininity comes from a suspicion that women are raised to be feminine because it makes us less powerful, easier to ignore, easier not to hire or promote. It makes us happier to be at home with children instead of in the workplace.

But for trans women, femininity can mean life. Survival. Acceptance. Their version of gendered oppression – and mind you, they’re already also dealing with sexism – means that the one thing the world has told them is that femininity is not theirs to have and that femininity will keep them alive.

It’s not really that complicated, and it’s not a theoretical point. Women, trans women, women of color – there may be variations on the ways we’re told to be, but the fact is that we are told to be a certain way, and the punishment for not being that way is death.

Say Their Names.

  1. Shade Schuler.
  2. Papi Edwards.
  3. Lamia Beard.
  4. Ty Underwood.
  5. Yasmine Payne.
  6. Taja Gabrielle de Jesus.
  7. Penny Proud.
  8. Kristina Gomez Reinwald.
  9. London Chanel.
  10. Mercedes Williamson.
  11. India Clarke.
  12. K.C. Haggard.
  13. Amber Monroe.
  14. Kandis Capri.
  15. Ashton O’Hara
  16. Elisha Walker

This is not a theoretical argument about gender. This is not about Caitlyn Jenner. This is not about femininity. This is about life, and about these terrific losses.

My heart is so broken all the time and I look up and see the arguments and lateral violence and theoretical discussions and I don’t know what more to say but SHUT THE FUCK UP and notice. Please, folks. Stop busying yourself with the ideas and find real-world ways to stop the violence.

2 Replies to “#saytheirnames – Three Trans Deaths This Past Weekend”

  1. One other thought. I know from personal experience with men in bars and from my oh-so-brief sex work that the men who are attracted to us are a swirling mass of lust, shame and often chillingly cold contempt once they’ve gotten what they want.

    Trans women are viewed by these men as being less than cisgender women, and when that intersects with race and poverty, violence is never far away. Trans women are often desperate to have someone desire us and we make huge errors of judgment; I know I have.

    I honestly don’t know what immediate steps we can take to protect ourselves, other than buddying up, texting locations and names of the men, etc. It seems, sadly, that guys are easily caught anyway after murdering these women in a blind and violent rage.

    Yeah, this is light years from Caitlyn or any of the quality problems some of us have. Great insight, BTW about needing femininity to survive; I know those girls.

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