Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, where we take time out of our day to remember those we’ve lost–too often to violence and suicide. As we mourn those who have died this year, it’s important to remember who we’ve lost and why. A few thoughts:
- As a community, we cannot abandon those at our margins. It is crucial that we focus on violence against poor transgender sex workers of color, a community where many of the murders take place. How can we support sex workers as a community, and how can we adjust our attitudes to recognize ALL transgender people as our brothers, sisters, and friends?
- The prison-industrial complex is not just a term of art. It is a violent, oppressive system that is killing our community. Police who have no training in cultural competency aren’t just rude towards transgender people, but frequently violent and abusive. Prisons don’t know how to handle transgender prisoners, who are often housed in the wrong facilities, confined in solitary, denied medical treatment, and particularly vulnerable to rape. We cannot forget those who are “lost” to the system, and must be their unwavering advocates.
- The problem of suicide is a personal one to me, and difficult to address because I struggle with depression myself, often related to gender dysphoria. It is difficult for me to conceptualize how others might help. However, this is a serious problem that claims too many lives, and beyond the general work we need to do to increase acceptance of gender variance in our culture, there are some solutions to make transgender and gender non-conforming people feel less alone. Therapists, other medical professionals, and suicide hotlines that support trans* patients and have experience working with trans* people should advertise this and make themselves known in their communities. Even for those of us who have the resources to seek professional help, the crippling fear of transphobia in the medical establishment can be too much to overcome without some sign that a provider will be understanding. And of course, ordinary people, friends and family, can do a huge service just by listening, asking how to help, and not judging those who suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts.