The 12th Annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed on November 20, but Transgender Awareness events are taking place all week, across the United States and around the world.
And whether you are trans or not, there are things that you can do to make the world better for yourself and for trans and gender-diverse people everywhere. Here are some suggestions:
For non-trans people:
1. Stop killing us. We haven’t done anything to you. If you are afraid of us, you need to examine your own issues and face your own fears. Attacking us won’t change things and it won’t make us go away. It also won’t make whatever you’re dealing with go away. Deal with your own demons. We aren’t them.
2. Attend a TDOR event. Find out who has died and how we have died. Afraid it will make you feel bad? It should. But you can help stop it. We need you on our side.
3. Volunteer to help out at a trans-related event. Meet some people. Have some fun. We’re not all a barrel of laughs, and we’re not all “the nicest people you will ever meet,” despite what you’ve heard. But most of us are good, happy, friendly people, just like most of you are. We’ll welcome you.
4. Talk to a trans person – about anything. We have varied interests, and some of us probably share yours.
5. Make a commitment to be an ally. This can mean anything from treating us like you would treat anyone else to speaking out against the prejudice, discrimination, and violence directed toward our community. Our allies are one of our best hopes in stopping new additions to our annual list of the dead.
For trans people:
1. Attend a TDOR or trans-related event this week. Even if you’re not out, returning to your “roots” can provide a great sense of camaraderie and belonging, as well as help you realize that you aren’t alone out there.
2. Remind yourself and others to be strong. Hearing about the violence against us can be overwhelming and can lead to depression and fear. Suicide is a huge problem in our community, but as long as you are alive, you bring hope to others. Stay alive to pave the way for those who will come after you.
3. Be happy. Those who would do us harm or support discrimination against us want us to be unhappy. They want us to believe that there’s something wrong with us, that we aren’t as good as others, and that we don’t deserve equal rights and protections. We know better. One of my favorite quotes is from Mariane Pearl: “I see happiness as a form of resistance.” We can’t let those who work against us control how we feel about ourselves.
4. Celebrate life. As we mourn those who have died, we also must celebrate their lives and ours. Those who have been killed were living as they wanted to live and as who they were. There’s nothing more powerful than that, and the power of authenticity can be very frightening or threatening to others. Those who have died paid the ultimate price, but no one can take away the power of the life they lived and the power of the lives of those who are still with us.
5. Be out if you can – if it’s safe, if it’s feasible, if it works for you. All the research we have says that people who “know one” – a member of any particular marginalized group – are more likely to support rights and equality for that group. And the stronger and closer the relationship, the stronger and more committed the support. We want to change hearts and minds. We also want to change laws. Visibility can help achieve that. There truly is strength in numbers.
Stay strong, stay safe, stay sane – and never forget. Those who have lost their lives push us forward and keep us fighting.