Sorry there’s no comic this week! We’ve been dealing with the flu plus getting the site up plus a TDOR vigil and we just haven’t had the energy for it. Anyway though, I wrote out my thoughts on TDOR this year — mostly for my own benefit but then I thought “what the heck, I have a blog!” and so now you get to read it ^_^
I grew up surrounded by images and stories of violence and death. Trans people in my community and in my circle of friends had been assaulted and received death threats. Violence against people on the GLBT spectrum, and particularly trans people, was so commonplace that they flooded news articles but rarely made headlines – assaults and murders were considered so commonplace that they were barely newsworthy. Stories of the outside world painted an even grimmer picture of the life I would face should I ever find the strength to be myself in public. It wasn’t until my adult life, and until after I had moved away from my old life and here to a far more accepting city that I finally had the courage to be open about my identity as a woman. For years, the fear of being attacked or even killed forced me to present myself as a man, in spite of the great pain and discomfort that caused me.
Each year, this day fills me with a heavy mixture of conflicting emotions. There is a part of me that resents this day. Do I really need to be told yet again that murder is all too often the penalty for being discovered? Do I have to be reminded yet again that I run the risk of being violently killed simply for being true to myself? Does that fear, already so overwhelming, truly need the reinforcement of a national spotlight? I don’t want to have to think about that; I want to live my life and not worry any more than I have to about all the awful things that might confront me in this life.
And that’s when I realize my mistake – I’ve normalized the situation. I’ve normalized the fact that my risk of being murdered is 12 times that of my peers and that I am likely to be exposed to far too much violence and hatred in my lifetime, far more so than my non-trans neighbors. And that’s wrong. It can be so easy to look at the world and shrug our shoulders and say “well, that’s just the way things are. That’s the way the world works. Dogs chase cats, flowers bloom in spring, and bigots murder trans people. Like it or not, that’s how it is.” But as easy as that is to say, as freeing as that can be to believe and accept, it’s wrong.
This day is about standing up as a community and saying that when one of our own is murdered for nothing more than being true to their own gender, it is wrong. It is wrong and it is worth our attention. It is tragic. It is worth standing up and taking note, it is worth so much more than a simple shrug and a “that’s the way things go.” That there truly is a severity to these tragedies that must be respected; that the victims of these atrocities deserve to be honored and mourned, not simply written off as a statistic in the life expectancy of a transsexual. And we need that reminder, because as absurd as it may seem, when you live with the fear of death every day of your life, the fact that this is not normal is just too damn easy to forget. Every trans person I know goes into thanksgiving each year thinking the same thing: “Thank God that this year, my name wasn’t on that damn list. Thank God that this year, there weren’t any names I recognized.” That isn’t a level of fear that most people have to bear throughout their lives.
This day is about trans people, and about the larger community, but it also, of course, about the friends, families, and loved ones of those unlucky among us who this year have lost their lives to hatred. Today is about us standing up and saying to all the loved ones of those who have been killed by hate, and to those who have been injured but survived, that we as a community believe that: “What happened to you is not right. What happened to you is not normal. What happened to you is not something that we as a community will accept; and we will stand up here together and support you and honor you and comfort you in your pain.” It is about letting those who fear they will die alone know that at least they may not die forgotten. It is about letting the world know that we will stand here together every year for as long as it damn well takes until one wonderful year when we will gather for a Day of Remembrance and there will be no names to put on our list.