Rivke Lela Reid: Transgender Day of Remembrance

Published: 11/17/2021 6:13:42 PM

Various groups will gather Nov. 20 to remember and mourn the transgender people murdered in the past 12 months.

I’ve heard discussion that white-skinned people organize many of these; yet we know most of the homicide victims are non-white. Should white organizers, be in charge? I don’t have the answer.

The question notes the general privilege white-skinned trans people possess versus our darker-skinned siblings: to die by your own action, rather than homicide. Yeah, some “privilege.” But here’s the facts:

The leading cause of death of Black transpeople under 35 is homicide. The leading cause of death for white transpeople under 35 is ending their own life (suicide).

Tragedies — but if I had to die and had a choice between being brutally murdered, maimed, and mutilated, or making my own decisions of the place and method to end my life, the choice is clear. I would take control.

It is indeed a “white trans privilege.” I’m don’t feel guilty about it: as Elliot Page said, “this s*** need to stop.” Just as femicide of all kinds needs to stop.

In 2021 at least 43 transgender or gender non-conforming people died by violent means. “At least,” as they often go unreported or misreported. Most of lives taken were of Black or Latina transwomen.

I want to remember those who decided to end their life too. I want to respect their agency and decision. But knowing the shame, self-loathing and fear that’s often involved, it strikes me as “murder by proxy.”

I’m marking Transgender Day of Remembrance this year with a tree of rainbow ribbons with the names of some of those who died of trans-phobic and other gender-based violence during the past year. Symbolic and futile — but I need to process the losses somehow.

Rivke Lela Reid


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