Trans Day of Remembrance

November 20th is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day that was started twelve years ago to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a Black trans woman who was stabbed to death in Massachusetts. Tonight there will be an event in  Oakland and on Sunday there’s one in San Francisco– you can look up other local events here.

It’s important to remember how physical, emotional, and systematic violence impacts the trans community. Many trans and other non-gender-conforming people live in fear- fear of being discovered, fear of being attacked for not passing, fear of being alone. There’s plenty of examples- the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival’s trans woman hit list this year (and wordpress’s unwillingness to do anything about it) was one such horrific example, where women’s personal information and their photos were posted as a way of outing them.  The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News underlined that point:

The New York Anti-Violence Project reported that Camila Guzman was found murdered in an apartment on East 100th Street in Harlem on Aug. 1, 2011.

Just last week, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News shared the news that a burned torso found in Detroit was identified as a transgender teen, Michelle Hilliard, who had gone missing weeks earlier.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released a report in 2010 that found that transgender women are disproportionately impacted by murder, accounting for 44% of gay and transgender murder victims that year.

Another study by the National Black Justice Coalition found that black transgender and gender non-conforming people face some of the highest levels of discrimination of all transgender people, saying that members of this group had an extremely high unemployment rate at 26%; 41% said they experienced homelessness at some point in their lives; 34% reported a household income of less than $10,000 per year; and were affected by HIV in devastating numbers.

“From education to employment and housing discrimination, from police brutality to health care disparities, black transgender people are suffering at extremely high rates due to bigotry and transphobia,” said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, National Black Justice Coalition executive director.

Further, as the gay and lesbian community celebrates the repeal of the military’s DADT policy, many have overlooked the fact that transgender people are still barred from serving openly.

The military classifies a diagnosis of “gender identity disorder as grounds for medical and mental health dismissal.

“[The repeal of DADT] is a non-event for the trans community,” said June LaTrobe, a U.S. Air Force veteran to the Windy City Times. “[The repeal] is great. It’s wonderful ¦ but there is no direct benefit to individuals who are comfortable identifying as transgender.”

I will be at the Oakland event tonight in honour of the many transwomen killed who are sex workers. Both are often relegated to the outskirts of society, and both often end up dead, in part, because they’re seen as worth less than other women, other people. BaySWANN has a good piece about the challenges trans sex workers face, and there was an article in the Guardian talking about how, “with all the issues trans people face in the workplace, it’s no wonder some of them turn to sex work”. It’s infuriating that when issues about how queer and trans sex workers are targeted by cops and serial killers alike come up, there is often a silencing that happens, even by other sex workers.

Please make some time and space to learn more about the experience of transgendered people, and how you can help in the struggle to end violence against them.

Kitty Stryker

Kitty Stryker is a geeky sex worker, Burner, rabid writer and feminist activist with one high-heeled boot in San Francisco, California and one in London, England. In London, Stryker worked with the TLC Trust, an online organization connecting people with disabilities with sex workers experienced with emotional or physical limitations. She is the founder of the award-winning Ladies High Tea and Pornography Society, and was nominated by the Erotic Awards as Sex Worker of the Year for her charity and activism work. Now back in the States, Stryker has been presenting Safe/Ward, a workshop on combating entitlement culture within alternative sexual communities, along with being the PR rep for the Bay Area Sex Workers Outreach Project promoting sex worker rights. She has written for Huffington Post, Filament, and Tits and Sass, built a social media strategy for Cleis Press, and consults with sex workers about their online presence. In her copious free time, she enjoys switching things up with her two hot lovers. Read more from Stryker on her personal blog, Purrversatility.

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