What Does Transgender Day of Remembrance Mean to the Trans Community?

picture of man hands forming a hear patterned with the gay pride flag, with a retro effect
picture of man hands forming a hear patterned with the gay pride flag, with a retro effect

What does Transgender Day of Remembrance mean to the trans community? originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question.

Answer by Jae Alexis Lee, MTF Lesbian Feminist, on Quora:

Today is the Day of Transgender Remembrance. For those who do not know the day, it's a day that we reflect on the trans lives that have been lost to violence this year. The list of names this year is longer than it's ever been. Many have asked if this is the price we pay for visibility ... and I just don't know. What I do know is that we can't go on like this.

This year, the list of names includes people who were shot, stabbed to death, beaten to death, and run over by cars. In 2015. In the United States. This is not a problem that happens in some distant country "over there." This happens right here, in our country, in our cities, and our neighborhoods. In general, violence against the LGBT community has been decreasing, and 2015 was a seminal moment in LGBT rights. But violence against transgender people is INCREASING. More of us have been murdered this year than any other year that we've counted. The Day of Transgender Remembrance is a day to reflect on that, and to talk about the violence we face because far too often it goes unnoticed and unremarked. Far too often, trans victims of violence are misgendered by the people investigating their murders, and even in death, they're denied their identities.

At the same time, we're turning out our own lights. Over 40% of transgender people in the US have attempted suicide at least once, and every year, too many of us succeed. We are turned away by employers, by doctors, but worse, we are turned away by our closest friends and our own families. For too many of us, there is too little left to hang on and we lose another brother, sister, husband, wife, mother, father, son, or daughter. Today, we remember those lights too.

For transgender people of color, it's worse. The harassment not only from everyday citizens but from law enforcement and government institutions is very real. This year, we've watched a trans woman jailed for the crime of being a trans woman checking into a hotel. The violence is real and the majority of trans women murdered in this country have been trans women of color. Today is a day to remember that while being transgender is a struggle for many, at the intersections of race and gender identity, trans people of color can fall victim to a double dose of oppression and hate.

In Houston this year, we saw a stark demonstration that FEAR of transgender people is enough to mobilize the electorate and strip away the legal protections of transgender people. We have become the bogey man that conservative politicians use to drive their base into the voting booth, and they do it by giving legitimacy to the idea that trans people should be hated and feared. Today is a day that we mourn for those who are no longer with us because of that kind of fear.

This year in the Philippines, a United States Marine is on trial for the alleged murder of a trans woman that he has testified to having punched and choked before leaving her slumped over a toilet. In his defense, his lawyer said that he was defending his honor because he discovered that the woman he'd just finished having oral sex with was transgender. This type of argument is common enough to have a name, the "Trans Panic Defense," and today is a day that we remember that there are still people standing up in courtrooms claiming that the simple fact of their victim's gender identity justifies violence against them.

We're told repeatedly that it is our duty to inform everyone who would ever be close to us that we're trans because if someone is surprised by that revelation, we would deserve to be beaten to death. And we find that when we tell people and live in the open, we are run over, shot, stabbed ... and beaten to death.

Today is a day to gather friends and family close. To tell stories about the friends and loved ones no longer with us, the family members we've lost. To find strength, together, to continue on even as we face the same things that took so many of our fellows from us. Today is a day to mourn.

We cannot go on like this. 2015 has arguably been the worst year in history for violence against transgender people and that's a record that 2015 needs hold forever. Let this be the year that we said enough. Let this be the year that we stand together and say that ignorance and hatred and bigotry have no place in our lives. Today is about standing up and saying NO MORE. No more names on the list. No more candle lit vigils to mourn the people that ignorance and hatred have taken from us.

We can't do it alone. While no one knows how many trans people there are in the United States, estimates have put the number at around 700,000 out of 319 million Americans. Most people in the US don't know anyone who is trans. For most people, we are an abstract concept, and it's easy to heap hatred on things that are abstract concepts that make you uncomfortable. So I'm asking everyone today to stop, take a moment, and look at the impact that ignorance has on us.When you see that ignorance spreading, say something. Remember that we're here. Remember that many of us are vulnerable and remember that words have power. You have power, and fighting back against the fear and the ignorance is the only way we'll ever stop the hatred and the violence.

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