For many trans people, life is not easy. Nobody said it would be. But being trans is not something we choose and as a consequence transitioning may not be optional either. For some of us it’s something which we must do if we are to stand any chance of managing our gender dissonance, of reducing it to a level where we can function in the same way as any other member of mainstream cis society.
To quote Andrea Dworkin in Woman Hating:
Every transsexual, white, black, man, woman, rich, poor, is in a state of primary emergency as a transsexual.
For many of us, our focus is finding ways to overcome that state of emergency: we transition to survive. We are not here to provide entertainment for cis people, nor to be the subject of cis centred academic theories. We cannot be socialised into being cis; neither can being trans be beaten out of us. We may not choose to be trans, but we are here, and we are trying to make our way in a world where we face prejudice and discrimination, bigotry, hatred and violence from cis people on a daily basis.
Yes, our journey is hard, but there are good things, too. We find others like ourselves and learn that we are not alone. We make new friends, trans and cis. We learn to face and overcome challenges and obstacles we never knew we’d face, and find strengths we never knew we had. We change, we develop and we become the people we always knew we were.
Or at least, some of us do.
Some – like the more than 160 trans people mentioned in the recent report of the TGEU’s Trans Murder Monitoring Project – don’t make it through. They are the ones we remember today: those members of my community who weren’t allowed to grow and blossom or find their true selves and who were murdered at the rate of three a week, every week.
Today, 20th November 2009, is the 11th International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). It is a day when we remember that every day, all over the world, thousands of trans people are excluded, persecuted, hated, mistreated, subject to aggression and routinely murdered or driven to suicide because of our so-called differences from other members of mainstream cis society. A system which tolerates and accommodates such hatred, prejudice and bigotry is unacceptable, and must be fought without concession, in the name of its past and present victims, and also in the name of its victims to come.
There are numerous events and vigils being held worldwide to mark this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance – many are listed on the TDOR website (link here) and I would urge anyone – trans or cis – who is able to attend any of these events to do so. Perhaps I may see some of you at the London event tomorrow (Saturday 21st November).
But regardless of anything else, today of all days, please spare a thought for those of my community whose lives have been sacrificed to transphobic bigotry and violence – and maybe ask yourself how anyone who believes in the basic principles of feminism can help us work towards ending transphobic hate crimes like this and this.