Three thoughts this Transgender Day of Remembrance

1911715_10154912243065565_3205825898850673008_nToday is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to pause and think of all those transgender people who have lost their lives just for being who they are across the world. I read the list of people who are being remembered in 2014 and it’s pretty harrowing to think of all those young lives lost through prejudice. Everybody should be free to express their identity without fear or attack.

A study earlier this year showed the high rates of suicide and attempted suicide amongst transgender people compared to the general population. We can’t stand by in the face of such evidence. It’s important that we make sure that everyone has the care and support that they need.

Paris Lees writes in the Guardian today about friends who have died far too soon and asks us all to show solidarity with transgender people.

I  spoke at the TDOR ceremony in London last year – one of the biggest in Europe, certainly in Britain, and possibly in the world. It was draining and moving and lacked the glitz and glamour of the well-funded galas and awards ceremonies that gay charities and magazines are able to throw at this time of year. It’s an event of which mainstream society is barely aware. Most of those attending were trans themselves, and there was a rawness and intense empathy with the suffering of those we remembered. I mean no offence to the wonderful people who give so much of their own time and emotion to organise TDOR, but we deserve better. We deserve better coverage in newspapers. We deserve better recognition at the political level. We deserve to feel like it is not just trans people who are moved and outraged by the culture of violence and abuse towards us here and around the world.

My friend Stephen Harte, who has written before on LDV, wrote something on Facebook today and I have his permission to share it with you:

Today is TDOR – Transgender Day of Remembrance – the day of the year where we remember that the hideous oppression faced by many transfolk around the world often manifests in violence – violence from others in assaults and murders – violence through self harm and suicide.

This year I accidentally, through posting something on Facebook, became involved with TERFs (Trans-excluding Radical feminists). TERFs consider themselves part of the progressive side of politics but seek to shame and exclude transpeople in a way that would make the religious right blush. Normally, it is transactivists who experience TERFs but I discovered that a school friend with whom I had reconnected on Facebook was TERF. After a long public Facebook discussion (which I had thought had remained civil), my old school friend “unfriended” me and our reconnection was broken.

In a small way (very small) I experienced what transfolk often experience. I was being rejected for supporting transpeople rather that because of who I was and the consequence of that rejection for me, though disappointing, was minor. Someone with whom I had so much in common (our school days were very similar and we both moved on to be commercial lawyers with an international focus, we both had an interest in the broader equality movement) expressed transphobia towards me merely because I (in my small way) stood up for trans people.

I hope we can all see ourselves as trans-allies. Even if, like me, there are small impacts from transphobic people (even from those who call themselves feminists!), by coming out as allies of transfolk we can hopefully contribute to a world where the much greater negative impacts to transpeople we remember today no longer happen.

Let’s think of the 226 transgender people who have died this year in acts of violence and hatred, just for being who they are and commit ourselves to making a world where your gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, colour of your skin or religious belief do not make you a target.

I’ll end with this two stories of hope: this  TED talk given by Geena Rocero who talks about how good life can be, how liberating it is when you are freely able to express your true identity and CBBC’s documentary about the fantastic transgender teenager Leo.

All comments on this post will be pre-moderated.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Eddie Sammon 21st Nov '14 - 5:56am

    I broadly support trans issues. The figures on the violence and suicides are shocking and something concrete for us to work with. I am not fully clued up on the terminology, but would like to be.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 21st Nov '14 - 6:55am

    Personally I am delighted that people are waking from a slumber over such hate crime, for in the 21st Century it is intolerable that people are being abused and even killed for being Transgender. What kind of threat does a Transgender person cause anyone?

    Thank you Caron for highlighting this.

    Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera

    Liberal Democrat English Party Diversity Champion
    Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrat (EMLD) – Vice Chair

  • Lauren Salerno 21st Nov '14 - 3:58pm

    Sorry not to comment before and thank you Caron

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