November 13 to 20 was Transgender Awareness Week, and the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) finished it off. The purpose of the day is specifically to honor trans victims of violence. In 2014, 55 percent of all murdered LGBTQ+ people were trans women, and most of those were women of color. Specifically, Black transgender women have a murder rate that is 7.5 times the national average.
Here’s another way to put it: if all of America had the same murder rate as that of Black trans women, 120,000 people would be murdered every year, rather than the actual 15,700.
In 2019 alone, official numbers say that 311 trans people have been killed so far. To reiterate, this DOES NOT account for all of those victims whose bodies were not found, whose murders were not reported as hate crimes, who were just ignored.
It also does not account for victims of the extreme emotional and physical violence that often targets trans people, and is the reason that the trans attempted suicide rate of 40% is nine times the national average.
This week doesn’t just have to be about the most extreme and violent form of intolerance; trans people can feel it anywhere, including in queer spaces that should be welcoming to them. Gay people are just as capable of being transphobic as straight people. Relegating people to their anatomy often comes up in gay spaces, even when no one is specifically talking about sex.
There’s an obsession with justifying how one might love trans people and have close trans friends, but clarifying that they just couldn’t bring themselves to have sex with a trans person. Here is something Leo, a transgender male student at Berkeley High School (BHS) wrote, about his experience as someone who falls into both the bisexual and the gender queer categories:
This last week was trans visibility week. And I felt very visible. My skin is opaque and I wear clothes that fit. People I know nod their heads when they see me. But there’s something about the community of queerness that makes me feel decidedly invisible. Why do I feel excluded from queer places? I am queer, my relationship is queer.
The argument becomes less about me and more about if someone wants to date me. I, a trans man, should not be included in queer male spaces. Because this hypothetical gay man doesn’t want to date me. “If trans men are allowed in our boys club then we have to date them, and I don’t want to date them, so you’re not allowed in our clubhouse.” The sign above the door now reads, “No girls or trans men allowed.”
These arguments fail to account for one fact. I don’t want to date you either, gay man. I don’t want to make you date me. I don’t want to date anyone who doesn’t want to date me. What I want is to not feel like in order to be included in queer male spaces, I must hide the journey it took me to get here. Which is what I do. I bend over backwards to keep the queer men from knowing, because I have worked really hard to have the privilege to hide it. I am not visible to them.
See the trans people in your life.