By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist-
Every November around the 20th you will find Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) events being held all around the world. These events are held to recognize and pay homage to our transgender brothers and sisters who have lost their lives, especially those during the past year, from November to November. Last year, many TDORs also began to include all of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters who have also lost their lives. There is still a hostile climate for being different and some LGBT folks have felt this hostility and paid the price with their lives.
This year’s transgenders who have died have met their fate at the hands of others in the following ways: throat slit, stoned, beaten, burned, stabbed, strangled, shot, and hemorrhage due to blunt-impact head trauma. Most of this group met their awful fate from men, especially those men who were looking for sex. The general public might think that the typical scenario develops something like this: the man sees the woman, romance blossoms, foreplay begins and upon finding the sexual organ the man, in shock and anger, loses his composure and violently kills the woman. In reality, there are many cases in which the man knows that the woman is trans and has consensual sex with her and, after the sex act, violently kills her. The transwoman suddenly becomes expendable after the sex. Can you imagine making love to someone and everything is so right and so nice and afterward suddenly you are being beaten, stabbed, shot, and/or strangled to your death? This is what these transwoman experienced in their final moments.There are other instances in which transpeople have lost their lives. In other years there were incidents where young children were bullied, beaten and killed by their fathers or father figures who had trouble dealing with their son’s preference for traditionally feminine things. I recall a few years ago that one father would beat and rip up the dolls and stuffed animals of the child and would slap him around to try to “toughen him up.” This particular father would even go so far as to drop the child on his head. After one too many drops, the child died. We all know and remember anyone who was different in middle school and high school being bullied and attacked, just because they were different.
Many gays, lesbians, transwomen and transmen can tell you stories about incidents in their own lives where they were verbally and/or physically abused. To suffer discrimination is a terrible thing to endure. To be taunted, harassed, bullied, punched, kicked and beaten are things no one should have to endure. There is also a religious element that too often comes into play condemning those who are different and who do not “fit the mold.” Threatening your child with eternal damnation is plain, outright bullying. I know too many friends who have suffered from the religious element in their families and neighbors. Please understand that many religious people are not like this and do not do these terrible things. But the ones who are should suffer consequences for these shameful, hurtful actions.
Enduring what others say and feel about you when you are different is hard. Many of us have faced the bullying and non-acceptance and too many of us have been ostracized from our families or at least by some family members. Many LGBT people have been divorced and their children have chosen to not acknowledge them anymore. Many family members do not want anything more to do with them.
It’s tough losing your family support. Sometimes family is all you have. And sometimes you don’t even have that.It’s a terrible price to pay for being yourself. It’s as if the best thing that could ever happen to you is one of the worst things that could ever happen to them. Some transpeople, gays and lesbians simply cannot take the rejection and loss of former loved ones anymore and they take their own lives. This Day of Remembrance is for them too. We recognize and pay tribute to those who have had all they can take. Some religious extremists might say the reason these folks took their own lives is because they were wrestling with sin. In reality, they were wrestling with the ignorance and hate of others. Humans are social beings and to be cut out of families is a horrible thing. How can people justify hate and ignorance over love and acceptance?It brings me to tears writing this column every year. There’s still hostility based in ignorance and fear toward those who are different. To understand this situation more, please consider attending at least one of the many Transgender Days of Remembrance in your area, which are being held on or around the 20th of November.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a local transwoman who has 3 grown children and works at a local Fortune 500 company. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.