Transgender Day of Remembrance deserves attention from cisgender people
By Hailey Orrange
To the majority of the world’s population, November 20th is a day like no other. You may walk down the streets of the place you live in, thinking about how cold it is or your upcoming holiday plans, with little to no awareness of the importance or meaning behind this day. This year, I urge you to stop for a moment and think about what meaning this day holds.
November 20th is Transgender Day of Awareness. It is a day where we think about, remember, and mourn for our trans siblings who have been murdered, who have suffered violence at the hands of transphobia, both historically and currently.
Transgender Day of Remembrance, like many other days honouring and mourning the violence against various marginalized communities, is often criticised and ignored. People will wonder why TDOR is necessary, why they should care, and why we are still talking about the violence and oppression that occurs.
It’s because it still happens. Every day.
Times may have changed, and it may not be “illegal” to be trans anymore, but that does not mean that trans, non-binary and gender-non-conforming people do not still face systematic oppression each and every day of our lives. Trans women of colour still face a life expectancy of only 35 years. Non-binary and GNC people need to bend over backwards to get something as simple as their pronouns to be respected, and even then, many people ignore people’s pronouns completely. Laws and institutions work not with us, but against us. While being transgender or non-binary may be legally recognized now, it does not erase the prejudice that we still face while doing daily tasks that cisgender people take for granted.
Think of the things you do that are natural, basic, every-day aspects of your life, such as going to the bathroom. When you have to go to the bathroom, most people just go to the one closest to them, do what they have to do, and move on with their day. Pretty simple, right?
For people who aren’t cisgender, going to the bathroom can be a task that is stressful, difficult, and potentially dangerous. Schools, businesses, and public spaces are rarely equipped well enough with gender-neutral washrooms to allow trans and non-binary folks to use the washroom without feeling uncomfortable or unsafe. People that we come in contact with every day who have preconceived ideas of what a “man” or a “woman” look like lead us to be constantly misgendered, even when the people doing it aren’t intentionally causing harm. Being misgendered, whether it’s intentional or not, hurts a lot and reinforces the idea that a person’s gender is based on how they look.
I am non-binary. This means that I am not a man or a woman. My gender is somewhere in between, an identity that I outside of the gender binary. When I wear makeup and dresses, I am not any less non-binary than I am when I dress androgynously in jeans and a t-shirt. I am misgendered every day, and it doesn’t get any less jarring, no matter how many times it happens. I am thankful to live in a place where I can be out to people and to not be at immediate risk of violence or punished for breaking the law. It’s a privilege for me to be able to be, at least somewhat, open about my gender. However, even with laws in place, the institutions in place are still working against me at all times. When I meet new people, I am always afraid that they won’t be supportive of a person who is non-binary. I deal with people, both first and second-hand, who do not respect my pronouns and my gender. And you know what?
It’s awful to know that people fully disagree with who you are and that they can treat your identity as something that is an opinion, rather than a real fact. The truth is that trans people have been around forever. The topic of gender is one that is seen as a current hot topic, a controversial new “thing” that has just been created recently. In reality, though, the gender binary is something that has been around for a lot less time than people who identify outside of the female/male binary.
This November 20th, take a couple of moments out of your day to think about the trans people who have been murdered, who have experienced harassment and violence, and whose mental health has been so negatively impacted by transphobia that they have taken their own lives. It is a day to remember the trans siblings that we have lost, and to appreciate, support, and uplift those that are still here. Trans Day of Remembrance is about more than just remembering; it’s about changing actions and disrupting systems that allow violence against trans folks to continue to happen.
This TDOR, educate others and educate yourself. Send some money to a trans person, support a trans artist, or help out a trans friend or family member. We are here, and we always have been. We aren’t going anywhere, but in order for the list of trans people who have died to stop growing longer each year, we need for cisgender people to be our supporters and our allies. Help us disrupt oppressive systems, and end the violence that we face not just on November 20th, but every day of every year. Remember those who have died, and work hard alongside us to prevent those of us that are still here from being mourned in the years to come.