Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Today, Tuesday, November 20th, 2018, is the 20th annual Transgender Day Of Remembrance (TDOR).
In 1998, the murder of Rita Hester, a Black trans woman, in my hometown of Boston, led to the creation of this Day. The other known trans people murdered in my home state of Massachusetts are Denise Pugliesi, Georgette Hart, Diane Carter, Monique Rogers, Debra Forte (the aunt of a trans colleague), Chanelle Pickett, Monique Thomas, and Lisa Daniels. I also remember CJ Garber, the trans son of two colleagues (one of whom has since passed away), who died of an overdose.
At that time, I was 22, and living in Boston, as I always had; born there in 1976, I had been out and about for several years as a trans person and advocate.
In 2018, at least 22 of my trans siblings have been murdered in this country, and the great majority are Black trans women. Christa Steele Knudslien (in my home state of Massachusetts -- a colleague there and a Friend here), Viccky Gutierrez, Celine Walker, Tonya Harvey, Phylicia Mitchell, Zakaria Fry, Amia Tyrae Berryman, Sasha Wall, Carla Patricia Flores-Pavón, Nino Fortson, Gigi Pierce, Antasha English, Cathalina Christina James, Keisha Wells, Diamond Stephens, Sasha Garden, Shantee Tucker, Vontashia Bell, and Dejanay Stanton, Londonn Moore, Nikki Enriquez, and Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier.
Also this year, Roxsana Hernandez, a Latina trans woman, died in ICE custody; Nicole Hall, a Black trans woman, was found dead in Dallas; SJ Brooks, a trans person of color, was killed by a mountain lion in North Bend, Washington (and was the partner of a colleague).
And well over 300 trans people have been murdered elsewhere in our world, and the great majority are Latinx trans women.
Too, many of my trans siblings have been lost to suicide, and the attempt rate in our community is over 40%.
And there have been trans deaths that haven’t been reported, and reported ones where the victim has not been identified as trans.
At this time, I am 42, and living in Gaithersburg, Maryland (Montgomery County, next to Washington, DC), where I moved in 2014 to begin living with my spouse Julia, who is gender nonconforming. I still hope, pray and work for tikkun olam, world repair. But on days like today, the world feels especially broken, and so do I. At the same time, I am mindful of my white and other privilege, even as a Jewish trans person who is nonbinary and queer.
November is Trans Month and also Native Month -- and this Thursday, “Thanksgiving” Day, is the 49th annual Day Of Mourning -- and we must remember the Two Spirit people who have been taken, including Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow last year.
May all of my trans sisters, brothers and other siblings’ memories be a blessing, as we say in Judaism -- and one that calls us to act, especially at trans justice’s intersection with racial, immigration and economic justice. May we continue schlepping towards tikkun olam, world repair, at the intersection of LGBTQI+, climate, racial, immigration, spiritual, fat, disability, and all other stripes of the rainbow of justice. May we never forget that white supremacy has always included cis supremacy and transphobia. Amen!
(The photo is mine -- I set it up and took it at my home a few years ago.)