Please Attend a TDoR & Learn to Accept Our Lives and Work to End Transgender Members
By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw */TRT Columnist—
It’s November again and once more it is time for the TDoR, Transgender Day of Remembrance. Every year we memorialize the transgender people who have been murdered from the previous November to the current November. As of this writing, since last November 20, 2018, 296 transgender people have died throughout the world. In the USA so far it’s been 36 transgender people who have died. Here is my source: https://bit.ly/34s1oBd. This list includes suicides [and a trigger warning, for reader discretion].
I realize that some folks do not think suicides should be included in the TDoR. I believe they think this way because the folks who committed suicide were not brutally murdered by others and including suicides dilutes the importance of concentrating on the brutally awful murders. While I can appreciate this point of view I, like many others these days, do include suicides in the TDoR. My personal reasoning is that first these folks most likely took their lives because of the way others treated them, therefore they indirectly died at the hands of others; and secondly, I have known several friends who have committed suicide and, frankly, I cannot bear to exclude them from the TDoR.
Why do some folks brutally murder transgender people and why do some folks drive some transgender people to suicide? I don’t have the answers but I do have my opinions.
I think some folks “other” us, that is they don’t see us as equals as human beings. Instead, they treat us as “others” and not deserving of life. Therefore, our lives do not matter to them and to them we are expendable—making it probably ok, in their eyes, to brutally murder us.
Some folks refuse to believe in trans identities. Instead, they believe that transgender people are sick or confused or possessed by demons. These folks usually refuse to acknowledge us as for our authenticity and they may continue to call us by our birth name. They may also use incorrect pronouns [misgendering] while referring to us. Others may seek to exclude us from organizations like the U.S. Military service—as the current Administration is doing—or refuse to serve us in their businesses or to recognize us as family members or friends. They may erase transgender identities and they may try to take away our human rights. These particular scenarios may be causing factors for some of the transgender suicides.
Some trans people are murdered after being intimate with non-trans people. It could be a date or it could be sex work. It doesn’t matter. It all boils down to the stigma that trans people are not equals and are regarded as “others.” Laverne Cox shed some light on this subject in a June 2019 BuzzFeed interview.
“Your attraction to me as a trans woman is not a reason to kill me,” Cox said in an interview that aired recently on BuzzFeed News’ Twitter morning show, AM to DM. “There’s been a market for trans women in the realms of dating and sex work for a very long time. We don’t have to trick anyone. There’s this whole sort of myth that trans women are out there tricking people, that they deserve to be murdered, and that’s not the case.”
Citing issues that exacerbate injustices against black trans women—such as homelessness, not having access to gainful employment, a lack of affordable health care—Cox said, “You’re more likely to experience violence so those systemic things have to be dealt with.” She believes people who are cisgender and those who identify as female should “have conversations with the men in your life about trans people. We have to lift the stigma around attraction to trans people, and we have to lift the stigma around trans people existing,” she added.
Yes, it is a systemic issue and we need to change a lot of things. Thank you, Laverne Cox, for your keen insight on this issue! In the meantime, I urge everyone to attend a TDoR in your area. The local community listings will help you find a TDoR near you. Let’s help to get the word out about these awful deaths and let’s work together to systematically change things and make it a safe world for transgender people.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has 3 children and two grandchildren. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.