CONTENT NOTE: discussion of transphobic violence, and “justifications”.
Today is Trans Day of Remembrance, a day set aside by the transgender/transsexual community to commemorate the murders of trans folks in the past year, and to draw attention to the violence to which trans people are disproportionately subjected, with the hope of preventing future deaths and cruelty. I do not like to let the day go past unremarked, even though (as explained below) in my genderfluidity I have an “out”. When people are being murdered, all people of conscience should be motivated towards ending violence.
I’ve mentioned a few times that I simply do not express my genderfluidity in public (I still express it where I can, not just virtually but in the privacy of my room with feminine clothing etc). I opt to pass as cis rather than express those moments when I am in-between, or just really want to be female. I do so because of experiences of casual hatred directed towards me when I did choose to express my non-binary, non-heteronormative, aspects. I live in fear and hiding, and uncertainty. I make what choices I feel I have to, to navigate the world beyond my own.
To be trans is essentially not to have those choices; the hatred is, in the wider world, unavoidable and unpredictable in just where and when it will appear, and in what form. Which person who seems okay will turn out to react violently, a threat to life and limb? Who’s going to express in an unguarded moment their underlying belief that trans people should not be allowed to exist? (Some people, of course, make no secret of their hatred.)
The murders range from the supposedly spontaneous, violent expression of disgust (the so-called “trans panic” defence) to considered attempts to “rid the Earth” of those the perpetrator believes are a threat to society, or an abomination, or whatever. Some are just because the murderer knows that their target is not valued by society and they will almost certainly get away with it. There are plenty of other sources to explain just how disproportionate are the numbers of women of colour, and sex workers (and of course, the combination of all three axes) in the lists of those killed; the least protected, least valued, by White, het, cis middle-class society.
But anti-trans violence isn’t restricted to murder. Bullying, harassment, and other forms of aggression are common, and go unchecked. Protesting the murders means nothing, and achieves nothing, if these issues, from the basic verbal abuse through to brutality or sexual harassment, are left untouched. The permission granted by an indifferent society to these crimes, similarly creates the atmosphere where “trans panic” is considered a reasonable defence and in which the murder of someone for being trans is acceptable.
Trans Day of Remembrance is about mourning the victims. The other 364 days should be about working to ensure there are no more.