Transgender Remembrance Day
I went to high school between 1998 and 2002. I attended a leadership magnet program geared at teaching inner city teenagers skills like teamwork, communication and leading by example. A big part of this program was having to give speeches--lots of speeches. And they must fit a specific time requirement! I loved to write and had things to say but for an introvert like me, getting up in front of my classmates and speaking about something was awful. I hated every minute of it and dreaded having to hear their critiques.
Then, as a senior, we were each given a block of time to discuss anything we wanted. The last four years had been leading up to this moment and I wasn't going to let this opportunity pass me by. I was going to stand up in front of my classmates, people who gossiped about me and snickered and laughed at me, and show them the world through my eyes. When the day came and it was my turn, my teacher pulled me out of the classroom and asked, "Are you sure you want to do this? You may not like the response." I didn't care. I endured having to walk down the hallways of my high school as people yelled humiliating things at me for years. The least I deserve is the chance to hold the mirror in front of these people and show them who they were by showing them who I was. I walked back in and delivered my speech, looking at each and every one of my classmates in the eye.
Let me do that again now.
It's been said before that while the average person has a 1-in-18,000 chance of being killed, a transgender person has a 1-in-12 chance. Every 29 hours, a transgender life is taken. While actual numbers for the transgender population are hard to pinpoint, due to lack of information or willful ignorance, the numbers we do have are shocking.
- 55% of all LGBT homicide victims were transgender women, half of these were transgender women of color
- 26% of transgender individuals have lost a job due to being transgender. This is twice the rate of the general population
- 20% of transgender people have been evicted or denied housing for being transgender
- Right now in 32 states there is no state law protecting transgender people from being fired for being who they are
- 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide
In the US, 53 transgender individuals were murdered between 2013 and 2015. Not a single one of them was prosecuted as a hate crime. In 2016, there have been 24 transgender men and women murdered in the US. This has been the deadliest year for transgender people. You think, "24 isn't such a high number..." It is when you consider that transgender people make up less than 1% of the population, 0.3% to be more precise. In life, transgender people are cast aside by society and in death, forgotten by the world. Today is the day we honor them.
We remember you:
Jazz Alford, 30 years old
Amos Beede, 38 years old
Keyonna Blakeney, 22 years old
Brandi Bledsoe, 32 years old
Veronica Banks Cano, 30s
Sierra/Simon Bush, 18 years old
Kayden Clarke, 24 years old
Goddess Diamond, 20 years old
Deeniquia Dodds, 22 years old
Shante Isaac, 34 years old
Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, 16 years old
Monica Loera, 43 years old
Skye Mockabee, 26 years old
Noony Norwood, 30 years old
T. T. Saffore, 20s
Jasmine Sierra, 52 years old
Demarkis Stansberry, 30 years old
Mercedes Successful, 32 years old
Rae'lynn Thomas, 28 years old
Erykah Tijerina, 36 years old
Tyreece "Reecey" Walker, 32 years old
Dee Whigham, 25 years old
Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum, 32 years old
Maya Young, 24 years old
I'd like to think that I opened my classmates' eyes just a little. By the way, I went to my senior prom in a dress.