Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to mourn the lives lost to transphobic violence. With at least 22 trans women, mostly women of color, murdered to date in 2015, our community has a great deal of mourning to do.
This continuing violence is the flip side of visibility in our supposedly progressive times. No trans person, anywhere, is immune. Just this week here in San Francisco, a trans woman was assaulted for a second time. Having moved here from Georgia, she lamented, “I came here to be safe, but we’re really not safe anywhere.”
Many cis people who would never dream of physically attacking a trans person are nonetheless contributing to the violence against us in more subtle ways. Every time someone deliberately misgenders or deadnames a trans person – no matter how famous or problematic that person may be – they are fostering an environment of mistrust and mockery. Every time someone tries to keep us out of restrooms, usually under the guise of protecting (cis) women, they are painting trans people as deviant and dangerous. Every time someone excludes or erases us from participation in online or offline spaces, they are telling the world that we are not worthy of being seen and respected as equals.
Merely tolerating trans people is not enough. We must be respected and treated as fully equal partners in society. That includes non-binary as well as binary trans people. As genderqueer activist Jacob Tobia points out:
The reality is that, even for transgender people who identify as women or as men along the gender binary, when you are mid-transition, you are going to most likely be read as gender non-conforming. So until all gender non-conforming people—whether that’s a place that you’re in temporarily or if that is where you are all the time—are safe, then every trans person is going to encounter discrimination, even if they identify as a trans man or as a trans woman.
Not everyone has the ability to be an activist, but everyone can pay more attention to the cissexist assumptions that fuel transphobic violence. Learn more about trans and non-binary people from the source by reading and sharing our stories.