It’s that time again. If you are a regular reader of blogs like this, I don’t have to tell you I’m not speaking of Black Friday. There is much on my mind as we approach the end of this year but it would be unacceptable to allow the day to pass without remark. I speak of course about the international Transgender Day of Remembrance.
I have to write this entry with a due measure of humility. Many many activists and writers will address this topic this week, more extensively than I, and often from a place of personal loss. Frankly, as the years pass and the names accumulate (over 1,500 that we know, thousands more we don’t, since 2008) it becomes more and more a struggle to say new words that are meaningful to the conversation, and more and more inadequate to simply rephrase the old ones.
They range from children who die at the hands of their own bigoted parents, to those living on the street desperately clinging to a marginal life who have even that denied to them, to those seemingly “safe” among us who dared to seek human companionship. Far too often, their killers sooth their conscience, if indeed they have one, with the lies told by the hucksters and con men who profess to speak for God.
It may seem counterintuitive but I continue to believe that the only path to respect is visibility. Our opponents love to use the word “normalize” in an attempt to ostracize us as “abnormal” but the verbiage is apt – as long as we let them label us thus, we will be seen as “less than” so called “normal” people. We contribute to that mindset by hiding. We contribute to a situation in which very few Americans will answer “es” when asked if they know a trans person personally. It’s not enough any more that they know who Laverne Cox is, it’s time they were faced with the reality that they DO know (and like and respect) a trans person, without ever having realized it. How is it we have taken huge steps forward over the last five years or so? It’s not just the courts, it’s also being “normalized.” A process which must continue, and one that can only progress via increased visibility. Not only does this “put a face on” transgender people, but it exposes the hatefulness and lies propagated by those who profiteer from fear. When people KNOW you it’s much harder for Tony Perkins and his peers to sell you as a threat.
But prepare yourself. Having lost the battle on same-sex marriage, those folks need a new monster to stampede the sheep with. WE are that monster. Those attacks WILL become harsher, just as the did in the marriage equality confrontation. But don’t let that cower you, be better than them. The truth will out, but it will come faster if we have the courage to speak it.
Photo by: Matthew Montgomery