TDoR and the right to remember


Do you know the feeling of disbelief you get sometimes, when you find yourself in an argument that simply doesn’t make sense? Someone is pushing back against something that shouldn’t be subject to debate, and you really can’t see how or why you’ve ended up in the conversation. Surely there are some things that, even here online where people let their worst side hang out, people know they should simply let be?

Things like taking a day to remember your dead.

Transphobia isn’t a surprise. Dismissal of trans people isn’t a surprise. If people didn’t hate others because of perceiving them as trans, there would be no need for a Trans Day of Remembrance. If everyone saw trans people as fully human and their genders as legitimate as cis people’s, life would be a hell of a lot easier for a hell of a lot of people. I accept- I don’t like it, but I have no choice but to accept it- that many people out there have a lot of misconceptions about trans people. Some through malice, some through ignorance, some for entirely different reasons of their own. We’ve got a hell of a lot of work to do.

But.. questioning people’s right to mourn their dead? I imagine the people I have profound disagreements with. Fundamentalists of all stripes, antivaxxers, people who think irony excuses terrible behaviour. No matter how much I dislike a group of people, I can’t imagine denying their right to grieve their dead, or questioning why they honour and remember them. There are times when we all need to step back, show respect, and leave the arguments for another day.

And yet, today, that was exactly what happened. It started, for me, with Suzanne Moore comparing harassment she received online- after writing a disgusting attack on trans people- to the murder of two hundred and thirty eight people this year. I questioned her on this, and her answer was to wonder if these murders had really happened. To deny that trans people are killed every day, to say that cis people are killed too, and to vaguely allude to links (which she never produced) to stats saying.. something.

On the one hand, I could respond to this. I could say that of course cis people are murdered, every day, and to accuse me of being somehow unaware of that fact is disingenuous at best. We’re killed for all sorts of reasons. Trans people are murdered for all of those reasons too- reasons of race, misogyny, good-old-fashioned dislike and rivalry and fear and random acts of senseless violence- and also simply because they exist and are trans. And these things add up- lists of the dead on Transgender Day of Remembrance are always filled, far too filled, with poor trans women of colour.

I could respond, and I could say all of that.

Another person, responding to Moore, questioned why we should bother having TDOR in the first place. It’s not like it’s going to stop people being killed, he said. It’s not like we have any connection to people in other parts of the world who were murdered. It’s not like we have indisputable proof that all of those murders were purely motivated by the victims’ trans status anyway, he said.

And I could respond to that. I could say that trans people around the world get to take a day to remember their dead. To honour them, as every group of people honours their dead. That trans people have the same right to candles, to silent moments, to people standing holding hands together in the dark of night, to having their names read out loud for all to hear that we all do. That remembering those who have been killed is about trans people, their partners, families and friends, and not about those who kill them. That it is about mourning those we have lost, and those we will never get a chance to know. And it is about standing with people who have to live their lives not knowing whether next year their name will be one of those called out. And- not that it helps, not that it is ever enough- knowing that if it has to be, it will be.

I could respond, and I could say all of that.

Or I could simply say- we could simply say- that some things aren’t about you. You need to stop.

You need to stop now.

All of this.

TDOR


Two hundred and thirty-eight people, that we know of, have been reported to have been killed this year for no reason other than that they were trans.

That we know of. That were actually reported. That we heard of.

Are you tired of it yet?

I said some things this day last year, and I don’t think I can better them today- it’s the same damn thing, just two hundred and thirty-eight more people killed because they existed. Because they were trans. Mainly, because they were trans and poor and women and POC, because as a society we sure do like to add insult to injury. Twenty of those people- again, that we know of- were minors. Kids.

I’ve got nothin’. I’m tired of it. Here’s a thing from last year:

Like most of us, I’ve said goodbye to people I love over the years. They’ve died in different circumstances. Some after long years of illness. Some after short months or weeks. Some expected, some unexpected. Some peacefully, some in pain. The loss of every single one of them tore- and tears- my heart apart. But there’s one thing that is common to every one of them that I will always take comfort from. Every one of them died knowing that they were dearly loved. Everything that we could do to ease their suffering was done. They didn’t want for a hand to hold. They were cherished as they died.

Nobody can tell how each of us will end our lives. But that one simple thing- that in our last moments we know that we are loved and cherished, and that if there is any way to ease our suffering it will be done- is something that we can hope for everyone we care for. It’s the one thing that we can do.

Too many of our trans* community are denied that.

So every year on November 20th we gather and we take time to remember the trans* people who didn’t make it this far. Whose last moments were hatred, violence, contempt. Whose deaths were nothing but sport for those for whom their lives meant less than nothing. The latest victims in our wars of privilege and oppression. The overwhelming numbers of, in particular, poor trans* women of colour, caught in the crossfire of too many intersections of hate. We gather together in the cold. Send short-lived, brightly burning lights into the darkness.

And every year I hold my loved ones closer.

Are you tired of it yet? Are you tired of this?

On another Transgender Day of Remembrance


Many of us feel lucky to have the loved ones that we do. We meet people who are sweet and kind and who we ‘click’ with, who bring joy into our lives and we appreciate the hell out of them. We find people whose differences and commonalities mesh with ours, with strengths and weaknesses that complement ours, and we cherish absolutely what they bring to our lives. We gather our Team Us. We love each other, we help each other out, we have fun together and support each other when things get rough. And whether things are good or bad, we know that we’re immensely lucky to share our lives with those we love.

I guess that a lot of us feel like we’re luckier than most in that respect- after all, we’re one of a tiny proportion of people in the world who get to live our lives with the people that we love.

Today, though, I do feel luckier than most. I wish that it didn’t have to be that way. Today is the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, you see, when we take time to mourn and recognise all of the trans* people who should be here with us today, but who have been killed by transphobia in the past year. Everyone who was murdered because of how their gender was perceived. Everyone who was driven to suicide by this transphobic, ciscentric society that we live in. Every year we do this, and every year I want to hold the trans* people who I love just that little bit closer. Because we’ve all survived another year. Because those who I love have been spared.

Isn’t that selfish? I guess that we’re all a little bit selfish. We all love who we love, and though we care for those outside that little group, it’s the loss of our family, friends and lovers that tears at our guts and rips our lives apart. So every year on November 20th I feel a little bit lucky. The people I love are still here.

It’s a cruel kind of luck, and one that nobody should have to feel.

Like most of us, I’ve said goodbye to people I love over the years. They’ve died in different circumstances. Some after long years of illness. Some after short months or weeks. Some expected, some unexpected. Some peacefully, some in pain. The loss of every single one of them tore- and tears- my heart apart. But there’s one thing that is common to every one of them that I will always take comfort from. Every one of them died knowing that they were dearly loved. Everything that we could do to ease their suffering was done. They didn’t want for a hand to hold. They were cherished as they died.

Nobody can tell how each of us will end our lives. But that one simple thing- that in our last moments we know that we are loved and cherished, and that if there is any way to ease our suffering it will be done- is something that we can hope for everyone we care for. It’s the one thing that we can do.

Too many of our trans* community are denied that.

So every year on November 20th we gather and we take time to remember the trans* people who didn’t make it this far. Whose last moments were hatred, violence, contempt. Whose deaths were nothing but sport for those for whom their lives meant less than nothing. The latest victims in our wars of privilege and oppression. The overwhelming numbers of, in particular, poor trans* women of colour, caught in the crossfire of too many intersections of hate. We gather together in the cold. Send short-lived, brightly burning lights into the darkness.

And every year I hold my loved ones closer.