Friday, August 21, 2015

A State of Emergency

17. That's the number of trans women murdered this year. 14 of those were women of color.

In 2014, 14 (too many) trans women were killed. It's only August and that number has already been shattered, only to be replaced by more blood shed and violence. 

Say their names:
I don't care if this is bombarding you with links. Their memory must live and carry on.

I don't care if you "don't believe in trans," or if you think "the trans identity doesn't exist," or if you think being trans is a sin. If you believe that, I politely ask you to leave this blog because you will find the majority of the content here to be very offensive, especially the content in support of trans people. I don't care if you have an issue with transgender people because no issue, especially one that causes no clear harm to anyone, merits the murder of innocent civilians. These women were just going about their daily lives without harming a soul and their peace was met with violence.

I'm finding it incredibly difficult to write this blog despite the amount of rage that's fueling it. Usually, anger is a source of inspiration to craft a message, but this is anger tinged with sadness and melancholy. I didn't know any of these women, but my heart goes out to all of their friends and families.

Violence against trans people is seemingly endemic. We think the L and the G of the LGBTQ+ community have it bad, but we've largely written off the violence that faces the trans community. Trans people are the targets of crimes, yet usually their deaths are treated as isolated issues rather than a larger trend of hate crimes. Often times, a trans person protecting themselves is even seen as the aggressor and is afforded little legal protection, as in the case of Eisha Love. Trans women of color (TWOC) are disproportionately targeted in violent crimes. TWOCs fall into two marginalized groups that experience large barriers in society, making them especially at risk in terms of their safety.

Yet how can we have so many hate crimes against trans women in the time of Caitlyn Jenner? Didn't she normalize trans?

As much as I wish anyone could normalize trans, we're a long ways off from that. For starters, Caitlyn is white and presents herself in a traditionally cisgendered manner. She also had the money to transition flawlessly. The majority of the murdered women were TWOC; basically, Caitlyn's version of trans is largely different from their version of trans. I mean no disrespect to Caitlyn Jenner; she's awesome and an important part of the trans acceptance movement. But it'll take more than one media icon, especially a white one, to make trans largely accepted in our society.

What about Laverne Cox, or Janet Mock?

Well, they definitely have more intersectional identities and they're important media voices/activists. Janet Mock says that media identities alone won't be enough to stop the violence and to normalize trans. She is one voice out of millions from your TV set. Transgender women have suffered media erasure for years; one year of media visibility won't solve much. There are still so many misconceptions about what it's like to be trans and why TWOCs are the targets of violent attacks.

It's not all hopeless though. There are things you can do to help. For starters, sign this petition for the White House to formally investigate the rising death toll of trans women, especially TWOCs. Secondly, take to social media. Share this blog post, share the articles linked above, share the names of the murdered women. This is a movement that needs visibility, and thus it needs active participation. I'm not saying you need to take to the streets and picket, I'm just asking everyone to engage in the conversation. 

It'll take a while, but I firmly believe progress is possible, if we all just pitch in.

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