Every year Transgender Day of Remembrance holds an intense weight on those who are part of the transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming (GNC) community, and despite the added effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, this year has sadly been no exception.
Since TDOR 2020, 460 trans, non-binary and GNC people have been killed. In the past, TDOR has focused on those who lost their lives due to violence at the hands of others. However, this year I feel it is especially important to also remember those who lost their lives in other ways, such as suicide or medical complications.
No one death or person is more or less important than the other- every life lost is due to the violence of transphobia and the far-reaching consequences of that bigotry. Whether it’s due to the long waiting times to get an appointment to start the process of gender-affirming surgery; a medical system taking advantage of the desperation to be seen as who you are; or a legal system that offers no dignity or respect to another human being.
Every single person whose life was lost was someone’s child, someone’s friend, some of them were parents – but most importantly, they were their own person with hopes of living their life on their own terms. This hope and their lives were taken by strangers, friends, family members and the state. However, ultimately, these lives were lost due to the rampant transphobia in our society.
These losses haven’t happened in a vacuum – trans people under increased visibility has contributed to this violence; an increase in cisgender voices silencing trans people’s voices has contributed to this violence; the pushback against LGBTQ+ education across all sectors has contributed to this violence.
The UK is currently home to one of the most intense backlashes against the transgender community in decades, with a concentrated effort to roll back rights that already exist through the Equality Act 2010. Despite public opinion broadly being in favour of trans rights, the most dangerous voices sit in highly influential places- our political and media spheres. They use their platforms to spread bigotry and lies about the community. This manifests in increased hate crime numbers, longer medical waiting times and ultimately a mind-set that puts transgender andcisgender (non-trans) people at risk or violence.
2021 has not been an easy year for anyone – the world is becoming more divided, those with power have shown they are willing to do anything to keep it and the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to highlight how unequal our society truly is. For the transgender community, these inequalities come with far more dangerous consequences which are often not treated with the seriousness they deserve. We may be deadnamed and misgendered even in death – denied a dignity that should be a right and is for the vast majority of the world. The dignity of being seen and respected as the person you are.
Transgender Day of Remembrance extends beyond just one day – 460 deaths in a year of 365 days is an unfathomable level of loss to comprehend for the community constantly under threat. While I wouldn’t want that weight for anyone else, it’s vital that this year cisgender people look at the various ways the transgender community are in danger and do anything and everything they can to work against it. Not everyone can take to the streets and protest and that’s completely okay – change happens in listening to those affected, educating yourselves and having conversations with family and friends. You have to openly stand up for those who cannot do it themselves.
Every death due to a societal or systemic failing is a murder and this year there were 460 recorded murders due to transphobia – something that does not need to exist in this world. Transgender, non-binary and GNC people are victims in a painfully unequal battle and while we remember those we’ve lost, it’s absolutely vital that we celebrate those who are still with us. Those who are still able to be loud and defiant against a system that would prefer silence.
This TDOR holds more weight than those in previous years but my hope is that in moving forward, allies of the community can come forward to help us carry some of it so in the future, TDOR becomes more a celebration of life and defiance rather than remembering those who were cruelly taken.
- Nic Farmer
Liberation Officer 2021/22
(Co-written by Ebony Harding)