Last night was such a beautiful experience and we got to hear a few people share their stores. Some of these people my wife and I have the pleasure of knowing personally, some we met for the first time.
It was a somber night as we paid tribute to the 25 transgender lives that were savagely taken from the world so far this year. There was then some mention the over 200 more worldwide who have been murdered, the estimated 40% of transgender deaths that are due to suicide, and finally those whose deaths have fallen below the radar due to misgendering in the news.
Towards the end of the night, some of us were asked to read from cards with a little bit of information regarding each of those 25 who were murdered this year. It was an incredibly moving experience that I'm grateful to have been a part of and I would like to share a little bit about the beautiful young woman who I was assigned. Because these stories need to be shared, these brothers and sisters of ours need to be remembered instead of being semi anonymous people who most will never know of.
Jojo Striker from Toledo Ohio was found dead in an empty garage on February 8th 2017. She was shot once in her torso and seemingly left to die by somebody whose identity has not and will likely never be discovered. Initial news reports continually misgendered Jojo and sadly, even her mother made reference to her "son" in a statement to police. Jojo was described as loving by all who knew her and her death had a lasting impact on her community.
This is only one out of well over 200 people worldwide. And sadly, as fear, hatred and bigotry are spread and government policies are continually brought to vote against our civil rights, who knows how high this list will be by the end of the calender year, or how high next years list will be, or the year after that. Many live in the closet for most of our lives because of the fear that we could end up on that list. Many turn to dangerous career choices because bigotry won't allow safer options.
I think of how lucky I am personally, I've been supported by my family, friends, and even my co-workers. And even though I haven't officially begun my transition yet, I feel safe in talking about my wants and needs as well as my hopeful plans with those in my life. With Turkey Day coming later this week, those people in my life who love and support me give me a thousand reasons to be thankful this year. And as 2017 comes to an end in just a few weeks, I hope that somehow, the world opens up their hearts and starts showing some love and acceptance to all those who haven't been as blessed as I have been. I hope that lives like JoJo Striker's are no longer taken so brutally just because somebody sees somebody different and feels nothing but hatred and disgust.