Trigger Warnings – Death, suicide
Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. No, this is not a day in which war veterans dress in women’s clothing, this is a day in which we remember those who were killed or driven to suicide by violence against them for not identifying with their birth gender. I am sad when I think that we live in a world in which people die for being themselves, for daring to want something for themselves outside of the status quo and whilst I personally have never questioned my gender identity, I’m lucky to be so comfortable and self-discovery is a difficult process only made harder by stigma and stereotyping
Transgender Day of Remembrance, shortened to TDOR, began in 1998 and was the idea of an advocate for the Trans* community, Gwendolyn Ann Smith, to honour Rita Hester, a transgender woman who killed herself in that year. Using the 20th November as the annual date, she said we need to take a day of the year to just think about all those who have died because they simply wanted to exist in a different way to the way society expected them to, because who they said they were was not defined by what they had in their pants. The transgender community is under a constant threat, a threat of violence, bigotry, ‘correction’ and eradication, often in brutal and twisted manners. I mean, it’s appalling to think anyone should have to die for who they are and it is still a big issue for many communities seen as being immoral or subversive when they’re actually just normal people like you or me
I didn’t take part this year, I’ll say that now, I didn’t even know it was a thing, I bet many of you didn’t either but the good thing is that this is the same time every year and if you google TDOR followed by the year number, you can soon find venues across the USA, UK, and some venues in Canada, Australia and New Zealand where people are doing services to honour those who passed away for their gender identity and you can make donations to charities working with people who need help in understanding themselves and who they want to be. I feel bad for not knowing this was a thing so to make up for it, I’m getting the word out here, pass it on, make a note of it for next year and if you believe people have the right to be whatever the fuck they want to be, do something small to show some support and maybe attend a local TDOR event next year
Now, I sense an argument brewing with some of you, a ‘special snowflake’ deal along the lines of “Ugh, trans people get an ENTIRE DAY for them? When is it Straight People Day? Or Cisgender Day? Why don’t we get special events?”. Why? Because not once have I ever been oppressed or discriminated against for being a straight cisgender man, I’ve never been bullied for liking girls or wearing trousers and having a beard. We cisgender straight people are not a minority, we don’t need positive representations because we are the social norm at the moment, we are what people are ‘supposed’ to be and these events are to help change our attitude from “A normal person is someone who is straight, cisgender and upholds the status quo” to “A normal person is a human being that breathes, eats, shits, thinks like all the other ones do, their genitalia, sexual partners and dress code are irrelevant”. I’m not against my own gender or sexual orientation, I know I have a go at you but let’s face it, we’re lucky that the system favours us and in a modern world, maybe favouritism should be a thing of the past so that anyone, be they gay, trans, pan, asexual, aromantic, genderfluid, agender – can be just that without being prodded at or mocked or called sinners or anything hateful.
I know it might be hard for some of you to accept but if you’re happy with who you are in terms of knowing which bathroom facilities are for you, knowing what clothes you can wear without being laughed at or called a tranny or if you just know you’re a guy or a girl because heck, you’ve got those bits, why not, then you’re a lucky person. You grew up happy in the stereotype and don’t get me wrong, if that’s you, that’s you, I’m not saying all men should wear a dress sometime or don’t bash homosexuality without trying it, that’s silly, but some people grow up questioning themselves, asking why they just can’t fit in, why the world doesn’t make sense for them in a way it does for everyone else. I can’t begin to empathise, I’ve always been happy in my own skin in that regard but I do know something – human beings should not be attacked or driven to suicide because they want to be themselves, imagine how you would feel if people thought you were a freak of nature because you were white, or straight, or for what you wore, imagine if it made you a victim of violence or people called you by the wrong pronouns all the time or changed your name so as to call you Henrietta instead of Henry or Dave instead of Davina. It’s not on, it’s not fair and so I think at the very least, the absolute minimum we can do is set aside a day of the year to stop and think about these people and how they must feel when we treat them the way we do. Who knows, maybe one day we will live in a society in which we stop intruding on people’s genitals and sex lives and men can wear make-up without getting punched in the teeth and kicked into pulp? That’d be nice