Thursday, November 20, 2008
Ten Years-400 Dead...And Counting
Today is the tenth anniversary of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It's the day transgender people around the world pause and remember our fallen brothers and sisters along with our allies and friends.
It's also a day of mixed emotions for me. One of the people we'll be remembering this year is one of my friends.
Instead of lighting 30 candles on her birthday cake next month, instead we'll be lighting one candle for Nakhia 'Nikki' Williams at our 7 PM EST ceremony in the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary's Caldwell Chapel later tonight. She unfortunately is one of the 27 transpeople killed this year due to the senseless anti-transgender violence directed at us.
Since the night ten years ago that Rita Hester's lifeless body was found in her Boston area apartment and outrage over the disrespectful way the gay and straight news media covered it triggered the first TDOR ceremony in 1999, we have read the names of 412 people over the last ten years of TDOR ceremonies according to the Remembering Our Dead web project site.
The 412 names listed are disproportionately transgender people of color, encompasses 38 states, 130 US cities and several nations. It also includes non-transgender people such as Nashville's Willie Houston and Barry Winchell, who was killed by a fellow soldier because he was dating transwoman Calpernia Addams.
This year's ceremony is a mixed bag of emotions for me. I'm angry about the continued loss of valuable lives. I'm saddened by the fact that one of my friends is on the list this year. I'm shocked but not surprised after reading the stats that we lost so many people this year.
But at the same time, I'm hopeful that with the increased media coverage of transgender people over the last year and a half combined with the upcoming change in presidential administration, we finally have the conditions in place to pass hate crimes and an inclusive ENDA.
They may be just laws to some of you, but for the transgender community they are literally life and death issues. They are symbols that we matter, our lives are respected and valued and when you read the 'We The People' in the Constitution's preamble, that includes transgender Americans as well. .
The TDOR also ensures that how and why our fellow transpeople died never fades from our memories.
crossposted to The Bilerico Project