Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we pause to remember transgender people who have lost their lives to anti-trans violence. In the past year in the Unites States, 47 transgender souls were murdered in homicides driven by bigotry and fueled by political movements that condone it. 85% of these victims were people of color. Beyond these murders, countless transgender and nonbinary individuals are routinely subjected to physical assault, harassment, intimidation and verbal abuse. This is appalling and shameful.
My 25-year old daughter is transgender. She means the world to me. Like many young adults, she lives with a group of friends. They share a sunny rental house not far from mine. She’s intellectually curious and especially well-versed in philosophy and the history of political movements. Our conversations are spirited, sometimes challenging and always enlightening. She’s interested in astrology, loves electronic music and has a taste for quirky films. She also likes to cook, gleaning new skills and knowledge from You Tube videos. She works as a door person at a nightclub downtown.
When she was around nineteen, a deranged asshole came after her on the light rail platform one night, screaming his intention to kill her based solely on who she is. After running through a busy intersection and into a nearby grocery store, she managed to escape. While relieved that she made it to safety, I was shaken to the core. The reality of her life became so much clearer to me, and the depth of her vulnerability was sobering. Very shortly after this incident, I started studying mixed martial arts. If anyone would seek to harm her in my presence, I was (and am) fully prepared to protect her, even if it meant physical violence. Fast forward to today, she towers above me and is tough as they come. She would say she doesn’t need me to protect her. But I’m at the ready all the same.
On a quick side note, I have a 29 year-old son. Like his sister, he’s everything to me. As a straight, white cisgender male, he can move around freely anywhere in the country and occupy spaces as he sees fit. I don’t worry about him in the same way as I do his sister, even when he’s traveling through the deepest of red states. The two have been prone to bickering off and on over the years, but there is no question that he would also defend her at any cost.
My cousin is a transgender man, living in Oklahoma. He’s a medic who pulled double duty during the pandemic, helping out in the COVID ward of the local hospital. He loves weightlifting and sharing life experiences with his girlfriend, be they culinary adventures or fun vacations. We converse mostly through Instagram, popping into DM’s to check-in and swap stories. He’s got a huge heart. I adore him.
My daughter and cousin are simply two human beings, trying to survive like the rest of us. The do no harm. In fact, I would say their presence makes life much more joyful for the people who love them. They pay their bills and taxes, care for their friends and family and mind their own business. Still, wretched persons, who know nothing about my daughter, cousin or other trans people, vilify their very existence, fabricate harmful and false narratives and go to great lengths to make their lives difficult. These monsters govern states, sit on school boards, disrupt community gatherings and troll social media. They make their hatred known in big and small ways. Their actions make things extremely dangerous for transgender people everywhere. They create a cultural environment conducive to murder. And they are the reason that a Transgender Day of Remembrance is even necessary.
Just today, we had news about a mass shooting at Club Q, a queer nightclub in Colorado Springs. Five people were killed. The investigation is ongoing, but there’s no doubt in my mind that this was an act inspired by hateful rhetoric around the LGBTQ+ community. When right wing entities continuously press a misinformation campaign about groomers and pedophiles, unstable minds are triggered. I believe this is by design. Again, appalling and shameful.
I’ve been angry for years and I’m becoming increasingly exhausted by this meanness. It weighs heavily. But I’m not going anywhere. I’m in this fight for the duration, wherever it goes and whatever it takes. So today, we mourn, remember and honor all the beautiful souls whose lives were stolen from them. May they live on in our resolve. For today and always, let us commit to making a better, saner and safer world for all of our transgender neighbors, friends, loved ones and fellow travelers. While those we have lost travel the celestial expanse, we can make sure they did not die in vain.