Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance [TDOR] which is an annual observance to honor the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. In addition, this entire week is Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people and address the issues the T and the Q in the LGBTQ face.
TDOR was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998; now it is held to commemorate all the transgender people lost to violence since then.
"The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people -- sometimes in the most brutal ways possible -- it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice."—Gwendolyn Ann Smith
Why do we need a special day to honor transgender people, some may ask. Well, I have an opinion … go figure.
Years ago I heard a saying, Gay is the New Black, meaning that since we’d come through the Civil Rights Movement, before which discriminating against black people was legal and accepted in many parts of the world, it was time to turn the discrimination toward The Gays.
Some say The Gays became The New Black because it was legal, and acceptable, to discriminate against us; we became the go-to group for denigration and stereotyping and bashing.
But things have changed for the better in this country; now we have marriage equality in sixteen states and the District of Columbia; we have laws in place regarding Hate Crimes, we have laws in place to protect us from discrimination. So what now …
Trans is the New
Black Gay. Yes, now that The Gays have made some strides, those folks who live to
discriminate need a new group to hate and to demonize and now it’s the
Transgender community — the T in the LGBT.
Think it isn’t true? Read on about a couple of incidents from just the last couple of weeks:
At Hercules High School in California’s Bay Area, a transgender student was beaten by four other students last week because she’s transgender.
Beaten for being transgender because narrow-minded people refuse to learn.
But, hey, it was just a beating, right? Then what about the transgender woman who was found beaten and murdered in Detroit this week. The body was discovered by a mother and son looking for bottles and scraps in trash cans, and they found a human being; dead. In a garbage can in America.
Only, this was a Black Transgender woman, so maybe it isn’t anything new; she had two strikes, skin color and gender identity.
We don’t need a new Black; we don’t need a new Gay; and as people become more understanding and more educated about our transgender brothers and sisters, perhaps there will be less brutality, less murder, less hate.
But then, what will become The New Transgender? Will those folks who hate just move onto another group to hate just because they're different?
Why can’t we just learn that we are all different, and yet we are all very much alike? We all want to be free to live our lives, our lives, as we choose; we want to love who we love; live as we choose; have the gender identity we crave.
Let’s not have a New Black, or a New Gay.
Let’s just have New.
As an aside:
I am not in any way suggesting that the Black community is still not a victim of hate; I am not suggesting that the Gay community is still not a victim of hate.
I'm merely saying that it seems like The Haters need to find some new target as their former targets become less so.
And that needs to end.