Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual day of remembrance for the transgender community and its allies to commemorate and draw attention to the horrifying violence that the community endures. This day is horribly significant each year with reported and correctly gendered murders of transgender people proving as high as two per month in the USA alone. These figures for the USA also demonstrate that to be a transgender woman of colour is incredibly dangerous. The transgender community, in an age of waning tolerance, needs our help more than ever.
In the right wing of the British press, the transgender community is currently being met with what appears to be a simmering distaste but is more likely thinly veiled hatred. Yesterday, the bigoted pit of bile that is Peter Hitchens published his own think piece quite literally titled ‘the transgender zealots are destroying truth itself’ in The Mail on Sunday. The audacity of the Mail publishing this article the day before such a significant day for transgender people is hardly a blunder or coincidence. This is a theme that follows through in other such British news outlets like The Sun which announced on its November 13th front page that nursery schools would now receive ‘trans classes for kids age 2’ from drag queens. The general use of sensationalist, reactionary language when it comes to transgender issues, even one so nice as a drag queen going to nurseries to sing songs with children that allow them to think about gender, is unacceptable, and one I cannot imagine will end anytime soon.
Beyond the press, of course, there are larger political shifts at work to undermine the place that transgender people deserve in the world. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump announced that transgender personnel would no longer be allowed to serve in the United States military. Whatever your stance on the military, the symbolism of this move cannot be understated – in fact, it is barely about the armed forces at all. By announcing the removal of transgender people from a position that carries so much status and respect in large parts of the USA, Trump was in effect removing power from their hands. If transgender people cannot ‘fight for their country’, or however the line goes, then are they really patriots? The answer Trump wants you to come up with is ‘no’, and if you’re not a patriot, then conservatives would have you believe that you are not deserving of the title ‘American’.
These examples are a drop in the ocean of the social, personal, and political struggles that transgender people combat, particularly in an international sense. As a cisgender person, I will never and do not pretend to know the difficulty of being transgender in this day and age. I can only offer my absolute support and solidarity with a community that is constantly marginalised and is subject to so much abuse, even from self-proclaimed progressives. However, there are lights at the end of this tunnel. In recent elections in the USA at least five transgender individuals were elected to government offices across the nation – Danica Roem of the Virginia House of Delegates accompanied Demi Lovato on the red carpet at last night’s VMAs. Public figures such as Laverne Cox, Miles McKenna, Hari Nef, Jamie Clayton, and Alex Bertie continue to inspire and work hard to create art and safe spaces for the transgender community. More than anything, this proves the resilience of the community, and the passion and the drive that these strong individuals have within them to continue loving and living. I encourage you all to take a moment today to mourn the lives we have lost due to intolerance and bigotry, and to carry that sentiment with you in the months to come.