(256) 886-1150 info@free2be.org

The Transgender Day of Remembrance November 20, 2016 – Joan Antoinette Bolhman

“Transgender people this year were murdered by shootings, stabbings, slashing, suffocation, strangulation, being run over by a car, being beaten, sexually assaulted & raped, immolated, drowned, dismembered, and lastly, being thrown from a bridge.”

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory if Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998.  The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and began what is now the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence.  I am no strangers to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost.  With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”  – Gwendolyn Ann Smith

In years past, I have spoken about the importance of mental health since suicide is a  huge issue for the trans community.  While it is important to be aware about the suicide attempt statistics in trans people, this year needs to have the focus put on transgender related violence.

The harsh reality is that if things don’t change, someone from our local community will go from someone we know to someone we remember.  We remember those who have died because forgetting the past prevents a new future from being made.

While there has been a lot of progress in the last few years, it’s important to not be fooled into thinking that the world is now a safer place for trans people.  It isn’t.  With progress, comes backlash from those that are afraid of what they don’t understand.  Right now, we are at the beginning of a moment in history that we will look back at and see that this is when things started to change.

The backlash has resulted in the deadliest year for trans people recorded.  The Transgender Day of Remembrance website has a list of 87 people who have been murdered in the last year.  This list only included murders that have sources, so the number is certainly higher.

The reality is that being trans is enough to get you murdered.  We must look at the reality of the world head on in order to be able to know how far we need to come.  For that reason, I am going to read the causes of death that were included for the list of 87 people murdered this year.  It wasn’t easy to compile, won’t be easy to read out-lout, and won’t be easy to hear, but it is important to know.  Transgender people this year were murdered by shootings, stabbings, slashing, suffocation, strangulation, being run over by a car, being beaten, sexually assaulted & raped, immolated, drowned, dismembered, and lastly, being thrown from a bridge.

The level of violence against trans people is shocking and we cannot, must not look away.  Leaving out the uncomfortable details enables those who seek to erase the lives and existence of trans people.  We will not be erased from history.  This is not a feel-good event, however, you can walk away from this event with a stronger sense of community, strength, and love.

We make a difference by being visible, speaking out, educating and organizing around anti-transgender violence.  We are witnesses to change and justice for our families, our friends, and neighbors.  Being an ally is important, and I thank everyone who is an ally present here today.  You are affirming that all transgender lives are valuable.  Being here today shows that you are willing to stand by and for us.  Being here today shows that you are part of the solution.  Being here today shows that you have my gratitude.  Thank you.