Saturday, 20 November 2010 is International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Unfortunately, it’s not a day to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of transgender people, but a day to mourn the brutal murders of the hundreds of people who have been shot, stabbed, beaten, burned, and bludgeoned — whether transgender or not — because of society’s intolerance for people who don’t conform to gender norms.
If you don’t know any transgender people, you should get out more. They’re the bravest people you’ll ever meet. If you think coming out as a lesbian or a gay man is hard, imagine coming out transgender. Transfolk are tough, the ones who survive, who aren’t lost to violence or despair. Because they’ve had all the bullshit in the world thrown at them, they’ve got a really good eye for bullshit, and a tendency to call it out. Because they’ve had to learn to laugh through all the ignorance and hate that comes their way, they usually have a wicked sense of humor. They’re amazing people. I guess they have to be.
Unfortunately, transfolk are all too often marginalized even in the LGBT community — and as a gay white man I hate to say this, but it’s true — especially by the gay white men who are the self-appointed spokesmen for our community. I think the community is coming round, though, and people are learning to fight for justice and not just for their own narrow self-interest. I was proud of the community backlash when Barney Frank and the Human Rights Campaign tried to drop transgender folk from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. It shouldn’t have been necessary, but at least it happened. We still don’t have ENDA, and we don’t have any prospect of passing it in the foreseeable future but let’s face it, we weren’t going to get it anyway. Because of that backlash, when it finally does pass, it will be inclusive. Maybe the gay establishment can learn that as long as some of us aren’t free, none of us are free. I imagine they’ll have to be reminded from time to time, though.
In the meantime, you can find more information about International Transgender Day of Remembrance at the links below. I hope you live to see it become a day of celebration. I wish we all could.