Tonight, I attended my first Transgender Day of Remembrance event in Charleston. The service was sorrowfully beautiful.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the speech made by my friend, Chase Glenn, during the service:
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for being here tonight. For showing up. For taking time to pause and remember those trans men and women we have lost this year.
If you’re here tonight, you probably already know that this year has been the deadliest on record for our transgender community. More trans folks were killed in the first 6 months of this year than were killed in all of 2014. Violence against the trans and gender non-conforming community is at epidemic levels. 21 transgender people were reported to have been murdered this year in the U.S. alone. For trans women of color, the situation is particularly dire. 1 in 8 trans women of color will be murdered. 1 in 8.
Where is the public outcry? Where is the mainstream media? Why is this not on the front page of every paper and the leading story on every news channel?
In a time when fear-mongering politics run amuck…. Where countless hours and facebook posts and tweets are given to spewing fear…. Fear of people who are different than us, fear of having our guns taken away, fear of others coming here from other countries….
Yet who is concerned for those transgender people who fear for their lives every day– when simply leaving their homes? Who is using their voices, their influence, their social media platforms and relationships to stand up for trans people? Some of you are in this room tonight.
Now is the time. Now is the time to stand up.
Many of us in the transgender community carried the baton for marriage equality for years. We put thousands of hours into the fight and we celebrated alongside our gay, lesbian and bisexual community when they were given the right to marry those they love. And now is time for those same LGB brothers and sisters to pick up that baton and fight the fight for our trans community. For the very lives of trans men and women.
We will continue to fight for ourselves. We will continue to stand up for our own rights, but it is imperative that our cisgender friends and family stand up on our behalf.
You may be wondering what someone like you can do:
- Educate yourself and begin to educate those around you.
- Fight for safe spaces for transgender people. Support the addition of gender neutral restrooms in all public places. Including schools where our trans students are struggling every day.
- When transphobic jokes are made—often times by unassuming people who consider themselves liberal and progressive—stand up for trans people. Help them understand why these jokes are not okay.
- Fight to ensure that gender identity is ALWAYS included in non-discrimination legislation.
- Get to know a transgender person. Listen to their story. Don’t automatically try to normalize their experience—saying things like…. I know exactly how you feel. Because you don’t. While everyone has their struggles and anxieties and fears, the experience of a trans person is unique and their fears of violence, abuse, homelessness, being fired from their jobs and rejected by their families is fueled by real life experiences.
- And finally…. Show up. Like you did here tonight.
Remember those whose lives have been cut short. Say her name. Say his name. Say their names.
May their memories be a blessing. May their memories be a call to action. And may they rest in peace and rest in power.