Upon hearing of the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) "Transgender Day of Remembrance", I had to wonder, is anything sacred to HRC?
The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started by Gwen Smith. She explains the origins of TDOR on the Remembering Our Dead website:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the "Remembering Our Dead" web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester's murder -- like most anti-transgender murder cases -- has yet to be solved.
She explains the mission of the TDOR this way:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgendered people, an action that current media doesn't perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgendered people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who've died by anti-transgender violence.
If one needs proof of the showboating, one need only look at the details of the event. To address those gathered they chose Rev. Drew Phoenix, a white transgender pastor from Baltimore, rather than someone of color from Washington D.C.. They chose the comfort of the HRC corporate headquarters, instead of a location closer to where the following deaths have occurred.
(WOC= woman of color)
Tyra Hunter - WOC- Washington D.C. 8/8/1995
Tyra Henderson - WOC - Washington, D.C. 4/23/2000
Jamie (James) Jackson - WOC - Washington, D.C. 11/21/2001
Stephanie Thomas - WOC- Washington, D.C. 8/12/2002
Ukea Davis - WOC- Washington, D.C. 8/12/2002
Kim Mimi Young - WOC- Washington, D.C. 4/9/2003
Bella Evangelista - WOC - Washington, D.C. 8/16/2003
Emonie Kiera Spaulding - WOC- Washington, D.C. 8/20/2003
Why not have a ceremony with locals that knew those murdered and experienced the loss personally? They haven't been in the national media the way Drew Phoenix has, but this isn't supposed to be about a photo op. Last year, Ethan St. Pierre eloquently explained how offensive this is. Ethan is the maintainer of the list of the dead for the project. Ethan's aunt, Debra Forte, is one of the dead on the list.
An Open Letter to the Transgender Community
"There are only thirteen people on the list this year?"
That was the first sentence in an email that smacked me in the face just days before The Transgender Day of Remembrance event. That was the email that smacked me in the face just after I'd spent hours updating the statistics and going over the entire list of transgender people we have lost to the unspeakable violence faced by our Community.
Hours later I received a phone call from a leader in our community who was complaining about how the Transgender Day of Remembrance was such a downer and that she wanted to have more of a celebration and to perhaps incorporate the day of remembrance into such an event and yes, even move the event to the springtime so that Colleges and High Schools could still be involved. After all, the more the money-er.
The attempted manipulations and attempts to capitalize on the Transgender Day of Remembrance by some of our national organizations and so called leaders is nothing less than appalling and downright sickening.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is not a place to put on your party hat, it is not a celebration of life, nor is it an opportunity for your organization to fund-raise, it should not be an event where the keynote speaker gets paid a lot of money to come and sell the latest autobiography and should not be a political event where people schmooze with their donors from a past political campaign and it most certainly should not be sponsored nor cosponsored by The Human Right's Campaign, an organization who can't even support us in a Federal Hate crimes bill!
Not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I'd have to write about such an issue and believe me when I tell you that there have been few things in my life that have been this painful and hurtful.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance still remains the one event where our community has come together as one to express our outrage, our fears and our sorrow for the losses we have endured, to honor and memorialize those who we have lost. It is a day to educate, not just society at large but the people in our own community who just don't understand the risks. It is a day of solidarity and I for one will not let that be lost and turned into something cheap.
I want to thank all the people around the world who have continued to coordinate events and who work tirelessly. Your commitment to the event and respect for its meaning is most certainly appreciated. For that, I'd like to say THANK YOU.
I just added another name to that list of people we have lost to anti-transgender violence and prejudice bringing the total up to 19. Is that enough?
Remembering Our Dead Project
In the memory of those who have died, I urge everyone in the Metro D.C. area to avoid this TDOR. Please do not take part in this abuse of our dead.
Cross posted from Transadvocate.com