I needed to wait.
When you write a lot, you know that there are times when you know you have no business behind a keyboard, or at the very least, no business writing on certain topics. I'm usually pretty versatile in that way, but I do have my limitations. I reached and exceeded one of those today, and it put me in a frame of mind that was not conducive to writing about the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
So, I waited, and now, I'm ready.
It's late evening. The sky is dark, the air is cold, and a chilly breeze blows steadily outside my window. I think about the lives lost to hate violence and I think about reasons, cause and effect. It occurs to me that the connection every one should be but no one seems to be making between employment rights and hate crimes should be obvious, especially in the case of transpeople.
The connection, of course, is poverty. So many of these murders happen in economically-depressed areas because transpeople, and transwomen especially, not only have difficulty finding work in the first place, but have no legal protections against discrimination in most states. As a result, our annual incomes are often so low than many of us find ourselves barely surviving. When your financial tank is that low, that's when you can find yourself in living and employment situations that are less than safe. While many of us may pass well enough to avoid problems, there's a significant number who can't, transwomen who will be targets everywhere they go. They are forced into dangerous living and working situations by the extremely limited employment opportunities often available to unskilled and non-degreed minority workers in general, and adding anti-transgender bias into the mix, the unemployment rate for transpeople is estimated to be far higher than for members of other, gender-normative minorities.
The fight for employment rights is the fight to prevent hate crimes. It is simply different fronts of the same war. In the end, the Matthew Shepard Act and the Employment Rights Non-Discrimination Act seek to help achieve the very same thing: to make a better life and future for LGBT people.
It's a cycle that needs positive action at both ends in order to break it.