Today on Transgender Day of Remembrance, let us remember all of the trans people whose lives we lost this year to violence and suicide. This is a day of sorrow, grief and despair for trans people and for all of humanity. TDOR is the only trans-specific holiday, yet it is not recognized by our governments. Our fallen receive no moments of silence in school halls, no flags at half mast, and little mention from the mainstream press. This is our holiday, and we must come together as one with our allies to remember, cherish and mourn the beautiful lives lost in our community.
We must stand with all trans people in their fight for liberation against systemic transphobia, transmisogyny, and anti-trans violence. Today, let us especially remember our trans sisters of color, who statistically experience more violence than our white sisters. Let us remember the victims from suicide, often our youngest – some of the world’s best and brightest – whose lives were ended prematurely from a sense of hopelessness, frustration and from mental illness brought on by a culture of hostility and transphobia. We must remember our fallen siblings who did sex work to survive, because we live in a world that economically disenfranchises us and puts many of us in situations where it’s survive, or turn our bodies into commodities. And once our bodies are commodified, it makes us vulnerable to forced sex trafficking – a violence so repugnant it must be wiped out immediately, yet law enforcement seems to consistently ignore it. We must remember these siblings’ lives, and honor them by fighting back. We must remember our non-binary siblings who have been killed, because they dare challenge a gender binary that is deeply ingrained in our history and traditions – history and traditions that are then spread around the globe via U.S. imperialism. We must remember our fallen trans and queer siblings in oppressed nations around the world, who don’t have access to the same care and communities that we have here in KC. We must demand justice for our sister Jennifer Laude, not only a victim of transphobic violence but racist imperialism since her murderer was a US Marine, who has still not answered to his crimes from either the government of the Philippines nor our own. Last but not least, we remember our anonymous dead, who are all greatly missed and loved.
This year in Kansas City we saw the ruthless and senseless murders of two of our sisters, Jasmine Collins and Tamara Dominguez. In this small of a city, in such a small minority community, these losses are huge to us. The Guardian reported in August that Kansas City is the “city that has become the epicenter of America’s transgender violence.”
Adding insult to injury, the local media responded to these murders with their typical repugnancy – completely erasing the victim’s identities, insulting them, and exploiting their trans identity to create a spectacle. This includes the Kansas City Star, Fox News 41, and all other “respectable” local news outlets, with the exception of Channel 5 news.
When these brutal murders occurred this past summer, many of us were afraid for our lives, caught up in the reality of the situation. Unfortunately, the hard truth is that, our community’s response was lacking. We must do some soul searching here, and ask ourselves: how do we respond in the future when our trans sisters come under siege? In these times of crisis we must come together, as one, and show that we will not accept this. We will not accept violence against our sisters, and we will not accept the inept media who insults their legacies. When these crises occur, we must harness our pain and anger and take our voices out into the streets and put our unified might on display. Do not get lost in cynicism. We must stand together and say, never again!
Furthermore, we will never rid our world of anti-trans hate without also ridding it of class divisions, racism, xenophobia, sexism, Islamaphobia, anti-immigrant hate, poverty and all other forms of discrimination and violence against the oppressed peoples of the world. We must join these groups in solidarity with their struggles and form alliances. When the call is made, we must stand next to them in the sidewalks and streets. Realize, if we don’t end the systemic racism that plagues Missouri and Kansas, and our nation at large, we will never end transphobia. This is obvious.
However, on this day of remembrance, let us also remember that hope is not lost. We can create a better world, and we WILL create a better world. The task before us is not easy, but by coming together as a community, combining all our strengths, uniqueness and greatness into one voice, by standing united in the struggles of oppressed peoples everywhere, I believe we WILL see the liberation of trans people in our lifetimes. On this difficult and sad day, let us honor our fallen by keeping hope alive.