[Image: Montage featuring trans activist CeCe McDonald, ReclaimMLK marchers with a BlackTransLivesMatter slogan, and a poster for BlackTransLivesMatter Day of Action.]
I’m finalizing my presentation on “Welcoming gender diversity” for next month’s Intersectional Justice Conference, and a sad but necessary component of my talk is highlighting trans lives lost to violence. (The image at the top of this post shows a preview of the relevant slide from my presentation.) With over 20 murders of trans people – primarily women of color – in 2015, and at least four so far in 2016 (one just announced this weekend), staying safe amidst trans-antagonistic hostility is an ongoing challenge and priority.
While trans women and transfeminine people are the primary targets of trans-antagonism, transmasculine people like myself are also affected. This recent article by Mitch Kellaway explores the murders of trans men in the U.S. and abroad, and the cissexist news coverage that frequently misgenders the victims based on their body parts and/or legal status.
Intentionally misgendering a murder victim is an unforgivable insult. The affected person cannot even speak up for themselves as the press and unsympathetic friends and family members strip their authentic identity, referring to them by their birth-assigned name and gender, and even dressing them in clothes and hairstyles more appropriate to that mistaken gender for their funeral. This ongoing farce constitutes the ultimate erasure and statement of cisgender privilege.
What are some things that cis allies can do to help?
- Always refer to us with our stated names and pronouns. Unless otherwise stated, these are mandatory, not “preferred”.
- Correct others who misgender and “deadname” us, even out of our earshot.
- Call out people who make trans-antagonistic jokes about our bodies or appearances.
- Support trans-focused organizations like the Transgender Law Center in working to simplify legal name and gender changes and counter discrimination against trans people in public facilities, the healthcare system, schools, and workplaces.
Don’t allow trans-antagonistic violence to continue unabated. Speak out against cissexism, and celebrate gender diversity.