Content Warning: This post contains references to transphobia, homophobia, hate crimes against transgender people, and suicide.
Today is the Trans Day of Remembrance.
Every year on November 20th, we hold a vigil to remember all the trans victims of murder and suicide the world over. For me, it’s one of the hardest days of the year; every year I read the list of names, I think about how my community is hurting, and I realize, every year, that any one of those lists could have my name on it.
This year, in the few days before the twentieth, I think about how I’ll see the name of someone I knew. I think about names from the past — about how Dana Martin, who was murdered in Montgomery in January of last year, was misgendered in the initial reports of her death. I think about Emerald Kelliher, who died in Montgomery in January of this year, being deadnamed and misgendered in her obituary. I think about how, if I die any time soon, it’ll be up to my fiancée and my friends to make sure my family doesn’t bury me in a suit or put my deadname on my headstone.
For me, and I believe for many of the trans people I know, it’s frustrating — infuriating — to know that it will continue. To know that trans people will continue to be deadnamed and misgendered by the media when they die, that our suicides continue to be blamed on us and not on how often we’re abused, and that the trans panic defense (when our murders are blamed on us because our murderers are afraid of being seen as gay) is still a legal, valid defense in most states. Hell, we only got equal protections under the Civil Rights Act this year.
Even in what should be welcoming spaces within the LGBTQ community, there are other queer people saying that we shouldn’t be included. Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists continue to fight against our right to exist. We have to go through therapists who might have zero experience with trans people and convince them that we’re trans enough to need to transition medically. There are name changes to do, different gender marker laws in every state, high rates of abuse, friends to mourn, and an identity that you must wear on your sleeve or hide entirely.
As for me, I wear my transness proudly. I am proud of who I am, not for the sake of being different or unique but because so many people like me don’t have the chance to be proud. I am proud of my transness because of all I’ve gone through to be here and because I have friends who can’t be here with me. This is the twenty-first year the Trans Day of Remembrance will be observed. For me, it's far too short to account for all the grieving we’ve done and far too long for all the grieving we should ever have had to do.
Sarah is a Montgomery local, advocate, and activist. They are a founding member of the River Region chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and a 2020-2021 Reimagine Justice fellow.