Please join me today in marking Transgender Day of Remembrance. Today, we remember the lives of so many transgender people lost because of hate, misinformation, bigotry, and immaturity. We remember the use of the “trans panic” defence to justify murder, and we are empowered to fight to remove that option from the legal system. Most of all, today is a day when we must remember lives lived in fear. Fear of being found out, fear of their own difference, fear of society, fear of attack … the same fear that would ultimately take their lives. No matter how busy we become, and no matter how many issues we face on a day-to-day basis, there is no reason why we cannot take a moment to bow our heads and remember.
Today, we remember Brandon Teena. We remember Gwen Araujo. We remember Angie Zapata. We remember the countless transgender people, those we know of and those we don’t, whose young lives have been taken. From beyond the pain and beyond the suffering, their voices cry out. They cry out to a world in need of understanding. They are a testament to the dreadful consequences of hate, and they are beacons of empowerment. Every time a person who is transgender stands up and says “this is me. This is who I am,” those beautiful souls are honoured. Every time LGBTQ people and allies bow their heads to remember, those beautiful souls are honoured. When we fight for equality, inclusion, and acceptance, those beautiful souls are honoured. We must not allow their deaths to have been in vain.
On November 11th, we remembered those who fought for our freedom. I remembered them as well, and I have been led to believe that they fought for the freedom of ALL people … transgender or not. Freedom is not something that can be afforded to just one segment of the population. Freedom is only achievable when ALL are equal. As long as transgender people have to live in fear, none of us are free. As long as hatred exists, we are bound by it.