I feel very strongly about the Transgender Day of Remembrance. I believe that it’s not enough, but it’s what we have, a part of what we can and should be doing. I believe it’s important to remember our past and our siblings (yes, our trans* siblings, not only our trans brothers and sisters) even while we push ahead to our future. I believe it’s important to hold these in public and visible places, to invite allies, to support each other, to support the lost.
I wanted this to be a very different post. I hoped I could write a different post, I thought maybe I could move past this and talk about how much it means to me – as a trans* person and as a human being – to see the number of allies that showed up in the extreme cold and the wonderful supportiveness.
But I can’t. Someone made what I have to assume was a poorly thought out decision at my local Day of Remembrance. Someone thought it was appropriate to give a speech that was thinly veiled victim blaming, and they carried it on way too far.
It started with the usual. This is such a solemn day, we’re very sad about the losses in our community this year, we are working year round to make the losses fewer.
We should do everything we can to reduce these losses. Legislation is too slow. Talking to others only reaches those who already agree with us. We can’t trust outsiders to protect us or deal with the aftermath. We need to band together, but that’s not practical on a daily basis. Each of us needs to protect their own self.
We need to make sure we know self defense. We need to carry mace. We need to not wear headphones or Bluetooth devices or talk on the phone or text or look like we’re in a hurry or look like we don’t have somewhere to get to. We need to carry loud whistles so we can yell for help, we need to not be out at night, we need to not ever be alone or with people we don’t trust. We need to watch our drinks. We need to not trust anybody, ever, regardless of how well we think we know them, because anybody could turn except our trans brothers and sisters. We need to always, always, always have our cell phones pre-dialed to 911 so all we have to do is hit call instead of wasting time dialing those three numbers. We are at so much risk, <i>and we put ourselves at more risk by not taking complete responsibility for our own wellbeing</i>.
And at the end of the speech, while I stare in mute anger, the host returns to the podium and says, “Thank you for that practical advice. We should all do these things, then there would be no need for a transgender day of remembrance.”
This is not okay. This is so far from okay that I don’t know where to start. Almost everybody who is in the trans community gets victim blamed for being female – by “choice” or by birth, doesn’t seem to matter – and we get blamed for refusing to hide our true selves. Do we really need another level of blame on top of all that?
Does anybody need victim blaming in the first place?