One of the great blessings of my life is to be able to celebrate being trans and queer. The world doesn’t always allow me the space to do that, but when I’m able to find my communities and the places that allow me to find the pleasure in it, it’s truly magical. I’m glad to be able to find the joy in shaping my gender to be how I want it. I’m grateful to be able to medically transition, even though I’m still critical of an imperfect system.
But I’m also realistic. The world is not always safe for trans and gender nonconforming folks. Many trans people, in particular trans women of colour, have been murdered on the basis of their gender identity and presentation.
It’s important on a day where we remember the lives of those who have been taken and to take this as an opportunity to not become complicit. We cannot allow ourselves to believe that these deaths are from any reason other than the violence of bigotry and that it could have been prevented. We also cannot become complicit in our own biases.
The way that we perceive the genders of living trans people contributes to their safety. If we allow ourselves to perceive trans people as untrustworthy, as dangerous, as other, we are actively endangering them. Even if we ourselves are not transphobic, it’s still possible to hold onto these transphobic beliefs. Unpacking them after a lifetime of programming of the heteropatriarcal gender binary is hard work. I hold myself to this account as well.
321 trans people were murdered this year worldwide. 94% of them were trans women and transfeminine people. Half of them were sex workers. Read more by clicking on the button below.
Actionable things you can do to make trans people safer:
- The simplest and easiest thing is not assuming pronouns and introducing yourself with your pronouns. Even if you are cis and you may think “nobody could possibly misgender me”, that may be true but that’s not the point. When you introduce yourself with your pronouns, you are holding space so others may speak up and do the same.
- Do not allow transphobic jokes to go unnoticed. Everybody has the power to say “why is that funny?” when somebody makes a joke at the expense of someone else.
- Uplift trans voices around you. If a trans person voices a concern about how people are treating them, listen to what they have to say. If people are speaking over them, it’s very simple to use your voice to repeat what they said. For example– “I think Alex was saying that this is a problem for this reason that they outlined. Alex, is that correct?”
- If an incident occurs in front of you and you are for some reason unable to speak out, check in with the trans person afterwards. Were they okay?
- Become aware of your own biases. Do you find yourself judging people who are gender nonconforming? Do you stare at them in public? Do you find yourself making assumptions about who they are or what they may be like, especially if they are negative assumptions?
Read and Watch
Gender Outlaws by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman
A book that changed my life, no exaggeration. It’s a collection of essays, commentary, comics and conversations with trans and gender nonconforming people from across the spectrum. It is a beautiful book that stretches the gambit of emotions.
A very hard film to watch that delves into the history of trans people in cinema. It’s uncomfortable, dark, and a stark reminder of how we influence media with our biases and how it influences us in turn.
Image Credit: GLAAD