Trans Day of Remembrance
November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance, founded almost 20 years ago to mark those lost to hate-based violence in the Transgender community. As it has grown, it has become one of the most visible occasions when trans people are noticed by the wider community. This visibility, and focus, has itself presented organisations like Be with our own questions, and difficulties.
As the TGEU site makes clear, whilst all Trans people face structural transphobia and cis-sexism, the risks we face are by no means the same. To quote from TGEU
A total of 2609 T.rans and gender-diverse people were reported killed in 71 countries between January 2008 and September 2017.
Migrants make up a high number of the reported murders in Europe. Of the 123 reported murders in Europe one third of all victims were migrants.
And, of the reported killings of trans and gender-diverse people whose profession was known, worldwide, 62 per cent were sex workers.
The NUS, in their guidance on hosting a TDOR event highlight the incongurity of groups of relatively privileged white British people reading (and often mispronouncing) names which reduce the full breadth of someone’s life to one moment, a moment which often comes to define them, reguardless of who they really were. As the guidance says;
Many TDOR ceremonies read out the cause of death alongside the names and places where people lived as part of the recital. This often has the effect of objectifying the violent nature of those deaths for an audience who is often not as likely to experience this violence. When we do this, sometimes it seems like we are remembering an act of violence, rather than people with wants, needs, and full lives of their own.
As a Board we are all too aware we are all white, and all live in relative privilege. We are not migrants, we do not run the risk of deportation, of arrest because of our jobs, of having to flee State violence or criminalisation of our identites. Whilst we want to build links with organisations, and individuals representing people of colour, we are also aware we need to do the work, rather than expecting it be done for us.
These considerations are not unique to us. How do we remember the lost, without appropriating their experiences? How to acknowlege there are many not even mentioned on the TDOR list of names? The NUS guidance makes an important point about the focus on the violence often reducing people to one moment, in some ways centering their life on the action of cis people.
In designing our evening of reflection and remembrance, we felt the need to hold in balance the desire to remember those lost, whilst never claiming to have shared their experience, or reducing them to a cipher. Loss comes in many forms, as does the experience of being Trans. The marking of TDOR can be about the living, indeed must be, as well as the dead. All too often wider society only sees trans people as dead bodies, victims of violence, who are displayed, like butterflies pinned to a screen for dramatic effect.
We hope to provide a space where lives are remembered, both our own, and those whose lives were violently cut short. It is also an opprtunity to consider where we have been and where we are going as individuals and a community. We invite you, whether a Trans person, an ally, friend, family or supporter to join us.