Tuesday, Nov. 20, brings in many places the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). One might legitimately wonder at the need for such a remembrance. I would have been in that condition just five years ago. Although I have been transgender all my life I was "in the closet" for much of that life. That meant for me not being in touch with other Trans people, not in touch with Trans issues, and not really in touch with myself very much. I also grew up in a rather privileged white middle class environment and did my undergraduate education at the University of Rhode Island and graduate work for two masters at Yale University. I worked as a parish priest for many years in the "elitist" Episcapal Church and then for many more years made good money in the computer industry.
Five years ago it barely dawned on me that I might be in jeopardy of social violence for being transgender (possibly from a terrorist, it was just after 9/11/2001.) I have learned much in the last five years! Last night I attended a public service for TDOR in Springfield, Massachusetts. I will be unable to attend the services in Hartford on Tuesday. I experienced many feelings during the service, extreme sadness, much concern and fellowship with the others there. I also was shocked and horrified at the stories of those whose lives ended so prematurely at the hands of others. You see, this day of remembrance is for those Trangender people who have been murdered (eleven in this current year alone.) In the service people read some of the stories of those murders. It was all horrifying and shocking to hear of people being stabbed to death with twenty or thirty knife wounds or being killed and then having their bodies mangled. It is all so far from my personal experience, yet somehow all too personal.
What shocks me the most, though, is the general indifference and acceptance in the general population of this treatment of Transgender people! One of the stories recounts the fact that a bunch of bystanders cheered as a trangender woman was beaten to death. Another story tells that the police recorded a Transgender death (murder) as being accidental (she was actually killed and then run over four times, accident?) Many of the murders are listed as unsolved. Even the solved ones often show light sentences for the murders. If you don't believe me visit the Remembering our Dead Web site.
Being a religious woman I could say to you pray for the dead. That certainly would be fitting. I am however going to say to BE OUTRAGED! Don't accept this violence. Being Transgender isn't bing less than human. All these Transgender men and women who were murdered were people worthy of their right to life. Fight with me and those like me for justice and the right to life without terror and violence. By all means please pray but do more. Tell your Doctors, your Police forces and your legislators that you will not accept discrimination and violence against any one! Don't accept violence against your Transgender brothers and sisters!
God's Love to you all,
The Rev. Michelle Hansen, S.T.M., M.Div