Day of Remembrance
I used to distance myself from the Trans Day of Remembrance. It made me angry, and in ways I couldn’t discuss with my mostly cisgender community (as some of that anger was directed at them, inevitably). I would rail against the broader queer community only ever focusing on TDOR, and the implications that had for trans women. I found candlelight vigils a hypocrisy against the marginalizing and tokenizing that happens every day to us in queer communities, and I was infuriated that the only thing cisgender queer culture seemed to have as a comment on my experience as a trans woman was “You might die one day for what you are. Violently. Remember that.”
So I kept away, head down and earphones in as November 20th snuck past my peripheral vision, exhaling only when it was gone for another year. Still, on my own I found myself on the internet, reading the stories of the dozens of trans women who are brutally murdered every year. I learned their names and their faces, and soon this cisgender dominance began to slip. I felt myself reclaiming my own experience of the day, my relationship to these women who died, and ultimately my responsibility to them.
In the face of a cisdominant culture that enforces false narratives to keep trans women marginalized, it is imperative we make our voices heard. I’ve written about this before, and I believe it is an essential process for dismantling cissupremacy. The most important voices to be heard are our dead, and the responsibility for those voices lies with those of us who are still alive. Not for cis culture to consume, not even for ourselves, but for these women who are no longer with us; By giving them dignity we give ourselves dignity, and demand it from a culture which withholds it from us. Even if it is only knowing their name or a tiny bit of their story, it gives back to them some of the humanity their killers took.
Although cisdominant media inevitably focuses on the murders of these women, pieces of the stories of their lives nonetheless get through. This is how she died is supplanted for brief moments by This is how she lived. Amplify that. Know the stories of their lives, and tell the stories of your own. Not just on November 20th, but every day.