November 20th is the annual Transgender Day Of Remembrance, the day we take time to remember all our gender variant brothers and sisters who have died in the last 12 months.
Sadly, in the last year alone, over 250 people have died as a result of transphobic hate crime (and that’s just the reported cases.) These aren’t just statistics—these are people—and you can see their names, addresses and causes of death for yourself, right here.
As I have stated in previous columns, I do not speak on behalf of trans people, I would rather use whatever platform I can to let them speak for themselves. This statement on TDOR is from the transgenderdor.org website, and originally appeared on rememberingourdeadorg:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.
We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred based violence, especially since the events of September 11th. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. This trend shows no sign of abating.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
VIgils are being held all across the US (and the world) today, there’s more information available on the transgerderdor.org website.
For today’s Notes column, I have decided to post two videos, two separate talks by two very interesting people who both appeared at Canada’s IdeaCity conference in 2010.
Just to be clear, I am not claiming that either of these people are representative of all gender variant people in the world (how could any one person claim complete authority over such a wide range of experience?) but rather that their own, very particular stories are hugely interesting and make for great listening.
The first talk is by the performance artist, writer, actress and lecturer Nina Arsenault, and is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a radical thinker. Arsenault seeks not to “make the world a better place” or to offer trite answers to scoiety’s questions, but instead wants to confuse the world, and by objectifying herself make the viewers question our own presumptions about her body and, by extension, “femininity”:
The second talk is by the well known adult movie performer Buck Angel, who has made a very decent living carving out his own particular niche in the pornogrpahy business. His tale, and delivery, is very different to that of Nina Arsenault, but both share a determination of spirit and sense of pride in their own being (not to mention their own bodies) that is inspirational:
Previously on Dangerous Minds: