Transgender Day of Remembrance and Visibility
Written By: Gina Duncan, Transgender Inclusion Director
As a classic book begins, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So describes the transgender community today.
Each November we come together to celebrate stepping out of the shadows and being visible and viable members of society. This has never been more the case, as the transgender community has been visible on a national and local scale like never before. Sparked by the success of Orange is the New Black, the celebrity of Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner’s internationally famous public transition, the transgender discussion has spanned the globe. Never has there been more awareness of what it means to be transgender.
But this visibility and drive for acceptance has come with a cost. Violence against the transgender community has never been more prevalent. More transgender people have been murdered this year than in any year prior. The suicide rate of the community remains alarmingly high as the stresses of discrimination mount. Trans women of color have been especially vulnerable, as 27 have been murdered in the United States in 2015.
More young people than ever are declaring their gender identity at earlier ages, despite bullying, harassment and alienation from family and friends. Ninety percent of school-age transgender youth report being harassed at some point due to their gender expression. And, most horrifically, the transgender attempted suicide rate remains fixed at roughly 41 percent. Almost half of this emerging community, at some point during their journey, attempt suicide.
Yet, the transgender community continues to march forward. The community, locked arm in arm, marches forward as the crosshairs of discrimination remain firmly aimed at the advance. As a comrade falls, we close ranks and continue the march forward. Armed by the need to be our authentic selves, we march forward. Emboldened by those who have succeeded before us, we march forward. Engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the haters determined to bathroom shame us into extinction, we march forward.
So, as we do each year, we pause to remember those who have fallen and celebrate those who remain visible advocates of the cause. We denounce the bigotry, violence and hatred. We commemorate the lives lost and the lives taken, but we also celebrate the brave souls emerging from the dark despite the hazards ahead. We remind each other that the journey is worth the risk and the goal is worth the struggle. We remind each other that the battle won, to be your true and authentic self, is worth the fight.
We all pray that someday being transgender will have no more significance than being left-handed or having blue eyes, because after all, that is the way we were born. We simply want the world to see us as we see ourselves.