Thursday, November 20, 2008

My words from the Vigil

On this day of remembrance I am confronted with the fact we are the fortunate ones, we are here to remember. All of us, transgendered and allies together here to remember our sisters and brothers unjustly murdered for no reason beyond they lived in their true gender as their true selves. It maybe a false comfort to think that its unlikely any of us could be subject to the same end that has befallen those we remember today, my sense is its a much shorter distance between their circumstances and ours than any of us want to acknowledge. I firmly believe that we need to remember, honor and learn from all those that have been murdered on account of their gender identity. The question is how do we honor them? What is sufficient?

My belief is we honor and remember these people by living our lives as positively and productively as possible advancing the case for transgendered persons rights to equal protection under the law, civil courtesy in society, access to health care, and access to economic opportunity. These basic rights that many take for granted as simple entitlements in their everyday lives are too often battlegrounds for us. The denial of these rights enables the process of violence against us by causing us to live in the shadows of society in the hopes that we can get by undetected quietly going on with our lives. In the shadows we attempt to live our lives as the men and women we are despite our physical situations. The problem is the shadows that conceal us from scrutiny also make us vulnerable to the intolerant violence of hate filled transphobic persons. In effect we find ourselves between the proverbial rock and a hard place constructed by the social intolerance of transgendered persons. I do not think I have the answers, I’m just beginning my transition journey and have much to experience and understand, but I have observed that whenever a group is viewed as stereotype that they are dehumanized and subjected to prejudice. The only way to combat that is to be seen as people rather than stereotypical characters.

Am I advocating that we all come out in society to be seen as people regardless of the consequences? Certainly not, our situations are far to diverse and as I’m throughly aware when you transition those close to you transition with you willingly or unwillingly. We are all at different at different stages in our journeys to be ourselves and our destinations are different. What unites us is we live beyond the gender binary. Often each of our decisions incorporate multitude of considerations impacting everyone we have relationships with. The first priority is for each of us to survive physically, emotionally, and spiritually; however, while surviving each of us should give consideration to what we can do to work positively to combat transphobic violence. Involvement with your local support group, volunteering with advocacy organizations, being a supportive friend to a transgendered person are all tangible things we can do to prevent violence against transgendered persons. Isolation kills, we have seen that time and again, community builds nurtures and protects.

How do we honer these people senselessly murdered? By being a community, banding together, looking out for each other on a local level and being an example of what is best in humanity people capable of tolerance and love with the strong conviction that we have a right to live our lives unmolested by hatred.

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