It’s something we all hope to live under. And physically we do. But as BrianKate, a transgender person living in Ann Arbor, feared for her life as a crowd of people threw bottles and slurs at her, these instigators didn’t realize we share the same sky.
As we look back at the lives lost to gender-based hate on Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, there’s an empty feeling in all of us. A feeling that won’t necessarily be filled overnight. One that may not even be filled in our lifetime. But with the activist roles that BrianKate and others play in giving trans folks visibility – showing that these individuals are sons, daughters, lovers and friends – the more those haters can realize trans people aren’t all that different from others.
The number of trans deaths is disheartening, but each murder that occurs gives us yet another reason to stand together and fight back. We can complain all we want. We can mourn. We can light candles at vigils. But if we don’t step up like others have, we’ll just be waiting for the next statistic.
Erasing transphobia starts with us and trickles down to media outlets, where we can give a voice to this marginalized group of people. Change doesn’t happen with the wave of a magic wand. And laws are just the beginning. Not the answer.
Laws won’t stop someone from chucking glass bottles at someone’s head. They won’t stop people from pulling a trigger. And they won’t stop hate. Erasing hate begins with our culture. Transgender Day of Remembrance may be the day set aside for honoring and recognizing those who’ve passed. But the progress we make in crushing transphobia doesn’t stop there.
Start a trans-friendly group on your college campus. Hold a Trans 101 program for staff members at your place of employment. Work with other community members to begin an all-inclusive group with not just trans people, but individuals from every facet of life. This way, others will notice that trans people aren’t any different than others and abandon their preconceived notions. Those non-trans people will spread the word to their friends. And, one day when others start embracing trans people, they won’t be seen as outsiders.
When trans lives are valued as equally as anyone else under this sky, then we’re on our way to brighter days.