As we change from Halloween to Thanksgiving (for me anyway), I start think about how another year has gone by. I ask myself what has changed over the last 365 days, and what has changed since this time last year as I sit here working on a list of names.
But it is not just any list. It’s a list that I will carry with me over the next year and beyond. I take it personally as I look at every name that appears on it, as the people who appear on this list happen to be just like me. Their only “crime” was that they were born as the people who they were and there are some in this world who have hate in their souls. They hate us just because we choose to be the person we were born to be. Just because we represent the idea that gender is fluid, that gender is not binary, they attack us.
Every year I start working on this list as a committee member for Long Island’s Transgender Day of Remembrance. I put together the images of these amazing people who we have lost, and on the night of our program, when we read the names, everyone can see who they were. That they are not just names on a sheet of paper. That they are not just names in a news story. They are people who had dreams, people who lived.
> "WHY IS THERE SOME MUCH HATE? WHY ARE WE BEING HUNTED DOWN? WHY CAN’T WE STOP THIS?"
As I am writing this there are 22 names on this list. People of color dominate this list, and the majority of them are transgender women of color. I know as a member of this club who is living in this country (living on this planet), I could be easily added to this list. I carry that with me every day. The question that runs in my mind as I spend yet another year looking over the names of those we have lost is why? Why is there some much hate? Why are we being hunted down? Why can’t we stop this? These are questions that I keep asking and I never get an answer to. I know we are making progress in our fight for our rights, and basically our lives, but we keep having to come together and remember those who hate has taken from us. Since 2013, the year I first took part in LITDOR, we have lost 150 amazing people, and that’s just here in this country alone. If we include other countries around the world, that number is a drop in the bucket. I can’t even guess on the number. Countries like Brazil are leading the way by far compared to the United States. Here is the break down by year:
We still have a little more than a month to go in 2018, so that number could go up. I hope with every part of me that is not the case but as I am writing this there is a report of a missing transwoman from New Orleans that police are looking for. All these numbers are painful to read, but remember these are only the cases that are reported. There are many more that are either unknown to us or where the person is misgendered and not consisted as a transgender homicide case.
I will continue to do this every year, as I feel it’s my duty to stand up for those who can’t. We will carry on fighting this hate the best way we can while living our lives. I have a message for those who would do harm to us, we will not be erased from the face of the earth. There has always been people like us and there always will be. And to the 150 sisters and brothers that we lost, I love you! Rest easy. We will pick it up from here.