I'm sitting here celebrating Transgender Day of Remembrance by eating cake. This is a day where we're supposed to remember and honor all those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence, so this might seem a touch morbid. But yes, I'm fucking celebrating.
I'm celebrating that I am transgender (words which accurately describe me, arranged from general to specific: genderqueer, non-binary, agender), and that I am still alive. This is a triumph! A huge success.
So cheers to all my transgender friends for making it through another day! Our existence is worth celebrating. Because despite the state the world is in, we have to do our best to live with hope in our hearts.
Despite the fact that there are people out there who want to see us dead for no better reason than that we exist. Despite the fact that some of these people might know our address.
Despite the standard waiting-time for medical help to transition is being measured in years, and that some are denied entirely.
Despite the fact that our existence is constantly denied. Despite the fact that children are raised into thinking there is something wrong with them, that teenagers are thrown out by their parents, that grown-ups are abandoned by their significant others. Despite the fact that we're outlawed in many countries.
Despite the fact that many of us have no reasonable alternative to spending our whole lives in the closet, hiding our hearts behind identities forced upon us.
Despite the fact that most of us are to some degree suicidal.
Despite all this, I mean it with all my heart when I say that things really do get better. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not for each single individual. But in the grand scheme of things, and for us transgenders as a people (we're millions), it serves a purpose to live with the conviction that a brighter future is ahead.
We will turn things around, because we're not alone. There is support and understanding to be found in other transgenders, and we have allies.
Want to be a good ally? Want to be a force in the world to counteract the hate which is literally killing us in the streets? Here's a bunch of things you can do.
- Educate yourself. Read up on transgender terminology and facts. Start with Wikipedia rather than pestering transgender friends/acquaintances/strangers.
- If you have a transgender friend or family member, join an organisation for allies. Offer to escort your friend to the pride parade or queer happening of the week/month/year.
- Realise that words have power. Do your best at using people's preferred pronouns and names. Practice goes a long way.
- Stand up for your transgender friends so they won't have to spend all their energy defending their identities. Correct other people using the wrong pronouns, join demonstrations, argue against people saying stupid or offensive things.
I will end this day lighting a candle for all those unfortunates who have already been lost. To the violence of others, and not least to suicide.
Then I'll finish my cake, and go to sleep in the hope of a brighter tomorrow. Thank you, transgender friends out in the open. Your courage is inspiration. Thank you, transgender friends still in the closet, for making it through another day. Your existence takes a very special kind of courage. And lastly, thank you cis-gendered friends who through your actions prove yourselves allies. Your taking a stand is a matter of life and death.
Love and power,