Archive for July, 2008

Weathering the Storm

July 26, 2008

After having very bad thunderstorms and tornado watches all through Massachusetts, I woke up yesterday morning to a bright, clear sunny day. I went out and checked to see how my garden had weathered the storm with it’s torrential downpours. I think all the plants will survive as long as we don’t get more rain within the next 3 to 4 days.

When I was finished with my assessment of the garden, I came back to the task I had been working on for the last few days. I’ve created a website for the International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

I know that the remembering our dead website already exists but Gwen Smith has been on a well deserved hiatus and since I’ve been working on the project with her for the past 5 years or so, I thought it essential that I pick up the ball and continue this important work that Gwen started. This is all still Gwen’s and if and when she wants to pick up where she left off, I will hand it all over and assist Gwen in any way possible.

I have the utmost respect for Gwen and as a hate crime survivor, I am grateful for the work she has done. Here’s a piece that Gwen wrote about the Transgender Day of Remembrance:

Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.

We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred based violence, especially since the events of September 11th. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. This trend shows no sign of abating.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who have died by anti-transgender violence.

On Thursday I began adding the names and pictures along with the details of death, age etc.. Up to that point I had worked on the website for 2 days straight, designing the banner setting up the basic idea of how the site would work and what I had to do to accomplish these tasks. Then I had to add the people who we will be memorializing this year. I wish that I could remove myself and just type in their names like any word on a page but I can’t. I wish I could edit their pictures to fit properly next to their names without looking into their smiling eyes filled with hope and promise but I can’t. By the time the last name was added, 12 in all (so far), I began to feel suffocated. I couldn’t breath in this room, in this house and I panicked. I closed my laptop, grabbed my car keys and ran out the door. I got in my car, opened all the windows to let the air in, to feel the highway wind on my face, my body. I cranked up the music and drove as fast as I could for quite a ways. Don’t misunderstand me, this isn’t about ME, it’s about THEM. It’s about those beautiful, precious, human beings whose lives were snuffed out of existence as easily and carelessly as someone steps on a bug. I only write about how it makes me feel because I don’t understand why everyone who is an activist or advocate doesn’t feel the same way. You know, it’s not just these past few days that it’s got to me that much, it’s every single time I’ve worked on this project for the past 5 years. Over the years, people have asked me if I’ve grown immune to it.

When that day comes, I’ll stop being an activist.

The people on the memorial list are getting younger each year. Please check out the website and really look at it. They aren’t just a list of names on a webpage, they are human beings who lost their lives for no other reason than being who they are. They were given a death sentence for being transgender and organizations in Washington, DC as well as our own Government are sending the message that that is okay.

Please drop me a line if you are hosting a Transgender Day of Remembrance event in your area, so I can post it on the website.

With love,

Ethan

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Trust

July 15, 2008

I’ve been tossing this around for quite some time because I wasn’t sure how to say what I need to say, so I’ve finally decided to just plunge right in.
I think that as a community we have found ourselves in an awkward place of mistrust. Mistrust of some of our community leaders who have once worked with HRC and have left some of us to question if they still are, will they go back, what are their motives, who should we trust, who should we believe?
What I’d like to explore is how do we get past all that and move on together. I don’t think we’ll be able to survive the fight we have in front of us if we can’t find some common ground.
Like in any relationship, trust is critical and once that trust has been lost or breeched, it is not so easy to recover. (Just to be clear, I’m talking strictly between the people in the transgender community, not HRC. I have no desire to work with HRC.)
In the past months since the ENDA bomb was dropped I’ve witnessed a bunch of opportunities lost over lack of trust (justified or not), overinflated egos, who should get the credit, who is going to win in the press, it’s sickening. We as a community have to find a way to make things right with each other.
I know there are more than a few stubborn people out there not even willing to admit there is an issue here and if there is, they are more than capable and able to handle it, but the truth is, no one is handling it and it’s an issue that is only getting bigger and if it’s not handled soon we all might as well take our toys and go home.
In the meantime, remember who it is that’s being hurt here.
If you need a refresher, look no further than these two links:
TransYouth Family Allies and
the list that seems never ending, Remembering Our Dead.

We can’t help the people at the second website but we can sure help the people from the first website from making it there.

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