Friday, November 21, 2008

Wrap up thoughts from Winne

Wow what a remarkable day the SL Transgendered Day of Remembrance (TDoR) was for me. I am always amazed at the spirit and willingness to participate demonstrated by the residents of Second life. It was very affirming for me a transsexual person to see so many people (TG and allies) show up to say they cared enough to take the time to remember and share.

The TDoR at its essence is about life and death and freedom to live, it’s serious business. Gwen Smit, the founder of the TDoR speaking with us yesterday said TG people have a 1 in 12 chance of being murdered that is pretty serious in my book. Our best estimate of attendance yesterday was on the order of 160 avatars a little math, assuming most of us were transgendered, if that statistic holds, 13 less of us would be there next year. When you bring that number down to personal terms and think okay which 13? my friends and fellow organizers Kara, or Gwen, my sl partner Gin? my long time friend Shery?, Me!! we can not let this situation stand, our collective lives depend upon it. Sure, it is much simpler, easier and intensely more dangerous to think of these deaths in terms of nameless statistics. I encourage you to personalize that 1 in 12 number not to paralyze yourself with fear but to mobilize yourself to speak up however you can and to support your sisters and brothers rights and well being.

The sharing I heard from all the speakers we hosted inspired me and encouraged me that there is hope and peace in the transition process and it reminded me that this can be a dangerous process. Through community effort we can mitigate some of the danger associated with being transgendered. This day for me was about being a community one that cares, one that is willing to say no one gets left behind or forgotten. As a community we have the obligation to care for one another by educating, supporting, and loving each other like a large family (yes I know its sappy) and like a family we don’t all have to like each other but we do need to care and work together. Also like a family those with experience need to be willing to risk saying the hard things sometimes, like saying nicely to the overzealous transitioning person please go get the counseling you do not think you need and those of us inexperienced need to listen and learn. We need being willing to step in when one of us is in crisis (we all hit that point sooner or later) to simply say I’m here and I care for you and am glad that you are here today and tomorrow so lets just talk being a friend can save a life. We need to help each other make good choices for the right reasons, rather than pulling into ourselves and going it alone. Investing time in peer support is an amazing thing offering huge returns for both parties. I said it yesterday I’ll say it again isolation kills community nurtures , protects and builds. All of us are part of this community.

During the evening yesterday I stepped away from the SL TDoR to attend the TDoR ceremony in my home town, Baltimore. I went for several reasons one I felt a real need to be there and be counted as a person saying no more violence against TG people. I felt this way because of my participation with the groups in second life. I also am at a point in the transition process where finding a support group is important and while attending the ceremony I met several wonderful people who are part of a local support group. I’m looking forward to attending the meetings and getting know the group. It was interesting to go from the virtual TDoR to a local TdoR . I don't like the RL / SL comparisions. I think the virtual SL TDoR is real the speakers and circumstances are all about real people from real life with real losses and victories. Maybe next year we can come up with a way to further bridge the gap between the virtual and the real TDoR events.

It was a wonderful day for me in both SL and RL I look forward to working on the project(s) next year and intend to keep running my stream of thoughts on this blog for the foreseeable future. As we move forward into the next year we need to keep the intensity and spirit of the TDoR alive in each of us and look for the opportunities to have a positive impact on the world around us.

Finally the thank you acknowledgments:

To my partners in crime Kara Spengler and Gwen Collins I am humbled by both of you. You are remarkable people thank you for letting me help. Its really special to work with you both.

To the organizing committee: Aaron71 Coakes, Carrie Talaj, Fyphfoko Yifu, Gwen Smit, Jani Myriam, Random Demina

To the speakers: Kara Spengler, Gwen Smit, Trinity Dejavu, Miyabina Susanti

To our Dj’s Jaded Communications, Miles Sullivan

To our candle maker Robin Sojourner

To Klara Milena for your wonderful photographs

To Shery Capalini, K and S Jewlery for the and commemorative Necklace and Broach

Thank you you were all instrumental in the success of the SL TDoR

A special thank you to the Webcomics Project Artists for sharing their amazing work (the pen is mightier than the sword, they prove it everyday)

Jenn Dolari ('A Wish for Wings' & Closetspace'
Mekari Potts ('Between the Lines'
Silus Crow
Chris Hazelton ('Misfile'

Corporate Sponsors:

Jaded Communications (music: midnight-4PM and 9PM-midnight)
Miles Sullivan (music: 4PM-9PM)
Robin Sojourner (vigil candles)
Hydra Charron
Lore Foulsbane
Lowri Mills
Hope Mcalpine
Desiree Carbenell
Kara Spengler, Gwen Smit, Trinity Dejavu, Miyabina Susanti

Organizational Sponsors:

Transgender Suicide Memorial
Transgender Lounge
Transgender Resource Center
Sweetwater Studio

Thanks to our corporate and organizational sponsors your assistance and contributions make a real difference.

Speacial thanks to my Partner, Gin Messmer, she puts up with me, patiently waiting while I crusade away and is always willing to be by my side. Love you darling

Finally one huge massive mega hug to the entire community of attendees that came by to show they care and offer support. If everyone real life was like you, next year TDoR would be a celebration that no one got killed last year - thank you all

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Photo by Klara Milena

Photo by Klara Milena

Femina Matahari remembered the loss of her friend by reciting the following poem written in memory of her friend and sister, Debbie Fox.

[7:30] Femina Matahari:

I came her last year when I discovered this Remembrance sim and asked the owners to add Debbie’s name to the list. She was a vibrant girl and a very close and personal friend more like a sister than friend. Basically the road was too hard for her in the end and she took the dark option as her only way out of the pain.It happened 5 years ago last august I still cry and I guess I always will any way here is the words our mutual friend Pamela Dunn in Florida wrote for her.

In Memory of Deborah Fox
As down the road of life we travel
Starting all alone
Others often join us, going the same way
They become our friends and companions
Sharing the pain we know
For their pain is the same
As that we feel.

We are all on a journey.
A journey to that inner self
Which is in our hearts and minds.
The road is from the male body
To the woman trapped inside us.
Deborah Fox

Our Dear Debbie, known too as Foxy
Was one that joined us on that road way
Happiness and joy she brought to
Those that might have fallen along the way,
Except for her helping hand.

Now and then, we in our turn helped her
Over the rough spots she found in her Roadway of life;
But somehow we failed and heard not a cry,
Mayhap she made none, her mind set on its path.
And she has left us standing on that roadway.
We are left alone to face the world.

Now forever there will only be
The image of her left for us to see,
The picture that will pale in comparison
To the one that really lived there.
She will live forever

In the hearts and minds of those she touched and loved
And those of us that loved her in return.
As long as we, her friends, remember her
And in our hearts keep her
She will never really die.

Oh God, our Debbie, please hold her soul and grant her entry
Into Heaven's Pearly Gates.
Here is my prayer for my friend Deborah Fox:
Pamela Jean Street Dunn,
A sad friend with tears in her eyes.

Goodbye Debbie my love,
Safe journey and may
the boat man on the river Styx,
grant you free passage for a smile
And may you find on the other side
That Valhalla for warrior maids
and sweet respite for your heart and soul.

© 28 Aug 2003
Pamela Jean Street Dunn

Miyabina Susanti, Volunteer TG Lounge

Greetings everyone. As you can tell by the nametag above my head I am Miyabina Susanti. Something that you may not know is that the name above my head... is my name in RL as well.

Second Life has been a great boon to me in my transition, if it wasn't for the interaction and information I found through here I wouldn't be as far as I am now.

A little more background info about me... I have a few issues, things like autism, factor v leiden, and marfan syndrome. But, the main reason I am even here today giving this little speech/talk to you all is that I was just discharged from a mental hospital on monday. I was very suicidal and got committed. I am a suicide survivor.

I am one of the lucky ones who was able to understand and get help.

I am here today to try and make sure that no other names get added to the suicide list.

We all get depressed from time to time. Which, I might add, that I still am depressed, I got discharged with a major depressive disorder. BUT! I have a new found appreciation for life. Little things like being able to be cold, breathing fresh air, feeling the grass on my feet, using a pencil, listening to your portable music player.

It is a fact of life that all the stressor in our life can weigh us down. But, there is a ray of hope! We can try to understand what our stress triggers are so they do not build up. Little things like being stuck in traffic can be negated by doing something we like while being stuck in traffic. Something like listening to a book on CD or singing to the radio or even a simple deep breathing exercise.

When we let the stress get to us to a bigger degree we start to feel the effects of a more severe depression. Starting to sleep more or less, gaining or losing weight. I am sure most of you know the signs. It is at this point that we become more anxious and the stress gets to us a lot more than normal.

Then the thoughts can turn to suicide. This is when we need to ask for help. This is the part that is hard for people. This is the part I was able to do and want to tell everyone to do if needed. It isn't bad to ask for help. You will get help. Money is no issue, they will usually sort something out for you.

Even if getting help is going into the ER, or even getting committed to a mental hospital. It is better to live. There is always something to live for. It may not seem like it, that is why there is help.

Living is fantastic.

You can be here in SL. You can listen to music. Just everything. Everything that we take for granted. I know I am being repetative here.

I just really really do not want to see another transgendered person, or anyone, take their own lives.

With this Day of Rememberance I want us all to remember those that have passed on before us, but I also want us all to remember how important our own lives are and to live them daily.

Thank you very much for listening to me, and I hope you all have a great day, week, and a long life. Blessed Be.

Trinity Dejavu, founder TG Lounge

To start, I would like to make a special thank you to Kara for all her hard work. She works tirelessly for the transgender, child, and newbie communities in SL. She is one of those rare people you meet here that truly shines, and I am proud to call her my friend.

I'd like to thank everyone involved in the Transgender Suicide Memorial for creating this place and organising today, to all those who volunteer there time at the Transgender Resource Centre and the Transgender Lounge for all the hard work they put in, day in and day out.

For many of us, the virtual and online communities are all we have to keep in touch with people with similar daily struggles and difficulties.

Everyone of us faces a daily gauntlet of a very personal nature. Depression, anxiety, low self esteem, lack of confidence, or just plain confusion at the daunting task of understanding what gender identity means to us individually.

When I first faced the question of gender I didn't dare hope, and fear of failure kept me alive.

When SL broke the walls in my mind down and forced me to confront the question 15 years later, I lost everything and more painfully, everyone. I came as close to suicide as you can and still walk away. I had nothing to lose, so why not try.

For many of us this path is a tight rope we are forced to walk everyday of our lives, a feat that some days can border on the impossible.

But if you have one friend, one supporter, one mentor, one guiding light who will put there rope next to yours and walk arm in arm with you. It can give you the hope to make it through another day.

It is on this day we remember those who have fallen and those who were pushed away or assaulted. We remember their families, loved ones and friends.

We remember them and their lives and struggles, what they stood for and what they meant to us.

I lost a friend a couple of years ago and promised I would keep her memory alive. She has been the motivation for my involvement in the Transgender Resource Centre, and in starting the Transgender Lounge this year.

If one person, just one, is helped to overcome the difficulties we all face everyday, then for me, Kelise didn't die for nothing.

Sometimes just knowing you're not alone makes the world a seem a far less scary place.

Thank you all for coming here and for taking the time to remember and to listen.

Gwen Collins' thoughts

[12:22] Gwen Collins: i'd like to say a few words about transgender suicides

[12:23] Gwen Collins:

Probably the majority of the suicides are caused because people feel that there's no hope. People who would need to transition but they believe that they cannot but which is worse, commit a suicide or come out?

Society is so much more approving now than it was in the past so what we all should do, is not only educate the society as a whole, but also our fellow transgenders
about the possibilities they have. Probably many suicides would be avoided if people would know more about the options they have. Therefore it is very important that we encourage more people attend support groups and such as many of us. I've been there to, as we all know, a suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. When you hit that low you cannot see further peer support is of utmost importance so please encourage people attend real life support groups, and please attend such yourselves as well

thank you

Gwen Smit, Founder TG Day of Rememberance

Gwen Smit: Thank you all for being here, and for honoring those we have lost

[12:10] Gwen Smit:

In November of 1998, Rita Hester -- a transwoman of color living in Massachusetts -- was brutally murdered. Her death, as well as the death of Channelle Pickett on November 20th, 1995, led to the creation of the Remembering Our Dead project and the first Transgender Day of Remembrance.

This was a project born of anger and sorrow, and remains a solemn occasion to honor those we have all lost at the hand of anti-transgender violence. I know I need not tell anyone here that our community -- our world -- is facing a lot of issues. Our larger LGBT community faces challenges due to recent legislation to yet again outlaw same gender marriage. My marriage of 16 years is directly affected by this ruling. In the face of heavy job losses around the nation and world, we still face an uphill battle getting employment protections passed at a Federal level -- with our own allies at the Human Rights Campaign working against us for their own gains in much the same fashion they have since the early 1990s. But while we can and should be concerned about all these things, and we should speak out about those things that infringe upon our rights, I wish to remind each of you of one thing: the most important and basic right we have is the right to exist.

This is a time to remember what others might like us to forget. This is a time to honor those we have lost -- and to hope that we will lose no more. A transgender person is estimated to have a 1 in 12 chance of being murdered, and ever other week another person dies to anti-transgender violence. 1 in 12! This year, we honor thirty people who were killed due to anti-transgender violence or prejudice. these were people like you and I, doing what they can to have a good life for themselves. They could have easily been us, our friends, or our family. Each one of them was killed.

You may not know Kellie Teleford, strangled to death the day after last year's Day of Remembrance by Shanniel Hyatt. You might not know Brian McGlothin, who was shot in the head with Antonio Williams automatic rifle -- simply because McGlothin liked to wear women's clothing. Like McGlothin, Lawrence King, a 15 year old, was also shot to death because he liked to wear clothing opposite his birth gender. Angie Zapata, who's skull was fractured by Alan Ray Andrade. Jaylynn Namauu. Ruby Molina, who was murdered in September somewhat upstream of the river that passes my own house. Duanna Johnson, shot and killed just a few days ago in Tennessee. Dilek Ince. Aimee Wilcoxson. Ebony Whitaker.

Today, there are people speaking out worldwide against anti transgender violence. There are events honoring those we've lost on every continent, in schools, colleges, and major cities across across the globe. Google has honored Transgender Day of Remembrance in their official weblog. Yes, there are even those of us here within Second Life.

I started this project a decade ago, and Ethan St. Pierre has taken on much of the duties to keep it going -- but it is up to all of us to end this. Mobilize, get active, and stay safe.