Friday, February 6, 2015

Please Stop Taking Transgender Lives!

Today is February 6th, 2015. Not really different from this past year, or the year before ad nauseum. The ticking of the clock brings with us once again the growing number of transgender people having their lives snuffed out because of hate and fear. I will never really understand that level of hate or fear, but I've known first hand its reality. Here's where we are so far this year,watching with anger and frustration as our body count grows.

January 9th. "Goddess" Edwards. The name Goddess assigned since we have not learned her femme name to date. Indianapolis, Kentucky, She died from a gunshot wound.

January 17th. Lamie Beard. Norfolk, Virginia Shot to death. Media added insult to injury by mislabeling her gender in their coverage.

January 26th. Ty Underwood. Tyler, Texas, the town where I grew up. Died from three gunshots as she entered her car. Friends are certain it was due to hate.

January 31st. Yasmin Vash Payne. Van Nuys, California. Stabbed then burned.

February 1st. Taja Gabrielle De Jesus, San Francisco, California. Multiple stab wounds.

This story of hate and murder goes on unchecked year after year. Police often criminalize the victim in early pronouncements. Dehumanized before AND after death. It bears noting that of the people listed here, all five are to my knowledge people of color. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), 72% of all people killed in LGBTQ or HIV hate violence are Trans Women and 67% are Trans Women of Color.

Make no mistake about it. I take this extremely seriously. Two decades ago, a younger Jessica found herself while taking a walk, surrounded by a group of guys fully intent on making me a statistic. I managed to make a break and ran faster than I've ever run before the block and a half to the police substation on lower Westheimer in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston. Of course they were not apprehended. I remember with such clarity the fear in that moment. There but for grace I could have become one more statistic, one more trans life extinguished.

Here we are at an intersection of movements. Black Lives Matter. So do Transgender Lives. The majority of those lives lost are black and brown lives. I'm so grateful that Black Lives Matter In their public pronouncements include trans lives. We've reached a point where this constant assault on our lives, and the added insults to our memories when we are gone, SIMPLY MUST END!

Let me say this with clarity. I'm no damned target for your hate! I'm not the insult at your parlor parties. Yes, we even are at risk for fighting back. Look only to Cici McDonald here in Minneapolis who went to prison after she was attacked first by a woman white supremacist, then later her swastika bearing boyfriend. A bottle smashed in her face, then the boyfriend enters the fray. In the struggle, she stabbed the attacker (the guy) and Cici goes to prison. Self defense according to the law is not an option they are telling us.

We as a nation has a long history of oppression. The numbers of those oppressed are rising, and the numbers of the oppressors are decreasing. There is coming a historical "come to Jesus" moment. Either we deal peacefully to end these oppressive systems and bring true justice for us all, or we will rise up and overturn this system for one that does work. Take a glance out on the streets now. We see Black, Brown, and White, Trans, Gay, Bi, Straight and Queer folks marching arm in arm. Businesses are shut down, freeways closed, shopping hindered. Black Lives Matter and Trans Lives Matter, righteous anger is welling up, presently in peaceful non-violent but effective measures to send a message. Listen to that message carefully. Ignoring it will have a terrible price.

Beautiful people are dying. It is not acceptable and it must end. Hate must not win this time.

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