Rebecca Juro

Remembering Our Dead & Our Living

Filed By Rebecca Juro | November 17, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: hate crimes against LGBT people, transgender, Transgender Day of Remembrance

Every year, I hope it'll be different and every year, it isn't. This year, it's even worse.

Every year, when the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance rolls around, I pay a visit to the Remembering Our Dead website to look at the names and Remembering-Our-Dead.jpgread the stories of people who's lives were cut tragically short by acts of anti-transgender hate violence.

Every year, the list grows even longer, with this past year showing a marked increase in the number of lives lost to anti-transgender hate violence.

While many may remember the name Brandon Teena from "Boys Don't Cry", the Oscar-winning movie starring Hilary Swank, other names are not so well known. Gwen Araujo, Angie Zapata, Rita Hester, Ukea Davis, Amanda Milan... so many names known only to those who care enough to remember them.

Then there are the unknowns, those who's names we will probably never know, unidentified transgender people found murdered in places like Malaysia, Brazil, and Boston. Sadly, most of these cases will remain unsolved, some because there's not enough evidence to pursue the case, others because there's isn't anyone in law enforcement who cares enough to bother trying to bring their murderers to justice.

Another thing I hope every year at this time is that our government leaders in Washington will finally figure it out, that they'll break out of their partisan, self-concerned bubbles and realize that one of the most significant reasons why so many transgender people die in hate crimes across America is that they're forced into poverty and prevented from rising above it. We don't yet have a federal government with the courage and fortitude to stand up for basic civil rights for all Americans, to protect our right to earn a living and provide safe, stable homes for ourselves and our families.

Every year I hope that this will be the year when the promises of Democrats in Washington will prove to be more than just pleasant-sounding platitudes designed to separate the American electorate from as much of their money as possible to fill their campaign coffers and capture our support and votes to help ensure the continuation of their own power and privilege.

Every year I hope that this will be the year when the politicians will finally come to understand what we in the transgender community already know, what we've always known: The passage of the federal hate crimes law last year was a very positive thing, but it can only treat the symptom. A hate crimes law only takes effect only after the damage has already been done, when lives have already been lost or utterly destroyed.

In order to truly attack the problem of transgender hate crimes, transgender people must be able to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and into safer, more stable, more comfortable lives. In order to effectively prevent hate crimes (which occur much more frequently in lower class, poverty-stricken communities than anywhere else) transgender people need to have our right to gainful employment and safe, secure housing protected by law.

Every year, I hope that this will finally be the year when the politicians finally realize that the best way to reduce the number of hate crimes is to reduce the number of the most vulnerable potential victims who are forced to remain in unsafe situations because there's no law where they live which requires that they have to be treated like everyone else when they apply for a job or try to rent an apartment.

Every year, I'm disappointed.

And every year I wonder how many more transgender people will have to be murdered in acts of hate-fueled violence before the politicians finally get it. People are losing their lives because of their cowardice and it needs to stop.


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You know, it is precisely because of this issue that I started this petition regarding GENDA in New York State.

http://www.change.org/petitions/ny-state-pass-genda-help-end-discrimination-against-transgender-individuals

Thanks for this post.
-Jeremy

Thank you Jeremy. Thank you Rebecca for as good an article about these issues as could be written.

Thank you, Rebecca for your heartfelt and well-written piece and tying in the politics. Fear and hate, and plain lazyness, are in the halls of Govt. as well as in our everyday lives. Wake up, Washington - We are dying out here!!

Trans people are "forced to remain in unsafe situations" because of housing and employment discrimination.. so true..

Becky, November 20th is always the hardest day of the year for me. In 1999, I took that list and pulled out the statistics for these deaths. Those stats were used in states and on the federal level to lobby for hate crime legislation. I kept track of them for four years, then Ethan St. Pierre took on the task, because his aunt is on the list.

During those four years, I had to look over the list several times, and constantly add new names as they came in. I couldn't handle the stress of seeing all of those names. I don't know how many times I cried. When I had to read the name of friends on TDOR, it hurt the worst. I remember one time I crumpled to the ground and had to be held by friends. This is an important day, but it will always leave a new hole in my heart.

What about the rights of anyone that is included in the Transgender umbrella living or murdered? You know those who don't wish to be labeled Transgender or that might take offense to gay politics? I suppose their rights don't matter as long as those who are happy being labeled Transgender and the LGBT gets from free press from their loss of life.I will be openly protesting the Transgender Day of Remembrance on their behalf and to point to the injustice of forced transgender inclusion. Its a truly sad lot that takes advantage of dead people to advance their politics.