Transgender Day of Remembrance


Here is the memorial of the trans folks who died in 2015.

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, where us trans folks remember those of us who have died. This year has been a brutal year, where the the number of us murdered rose higher than any other year in the last four decades. The vast majority of those who were murdered or died by suicide was trans women, specifically trans women of color.

I wrote the following piece for the TDoR memorial that was to happen today, but due to a winter storm coating our city with six to ten inches of snow, it has been rescheduled. I post it here as a memorial to those we have lost and in honor of those who still live. You are not forgotten. You are not alone. You will be remembered. And you are loved.

Below is my TDoR piece:

Reality

by Aidan A. Z.

Charred, broken strings of names
Scattered across the place.
Memories burned and forgotten
The ones we couldn’t face.

We seek to be ourselves yet
We fall through the cracks
Murdered, harassed, beaten
Up and up the names stack.

A fragile hope burns dimly
Within the dark surrounding us
We reach and clasp hands
To reforge our shattered trust.

It’s August 2012

I hopped down the three steps to the lower area of Maucker Union at UNI. It was right around this area that people from the LGBT group would congregate, laughing and smiling, their faces welcoming to all who walked by. Except that day no one was there. The tables were empty except for one in the corner, where four people sat. The men wore jerseys and the girl a skirt and a yellow blouse. I sat down at an empty table, not really giving them much thought.

As I pulled out my physics textbook, I heard one of them say way too loudly, “What the hell is that?”

“I know, right? Thought it was a guy at first,” said one of the guys. “Then it walked closer.”

The girl laughed. “The thing from Maucker.”

“I mean, look at it. Best to put it out of its misery.”

Their words felt like bullets shot into my skin. That day I wore plain jeans today and loose T-shirt. Curls hugged my scalp, my hair cut short. I had not yet started any sort of physical transition. Slowly, I turned to see one of the guys pointing straight at me.

“It’s looking at us!” The guy on the right shifted his chair closer to the others. “What do you want, freak?” He called out.

I snatched my textbook, threw it in my bag, and lept to my feet. Laughter erupted behind me as I half ran out of the eating area, down a few steps toward the bathrooms. I hesitated at the signs, the brief moment of indecision curdling in my stomach. Which one was safe? I was assigned female at birth. But my gender identity – it didn’t fit either. I flinched and threw open the door to the women’s restroom. For a few brief moments, fear clutched my stomach, and I felt like I was going to puke. But no one stood by the sinks; none of the stall doors were shut. I chose one at random and sat down.

“Dammit.” Tears stung my eyes. I’d let them get to me. But how could I not? I’d been treated like a thing, not even human. I put my head in my hands and just sat there. After awhile, my right leg started to go a bit numb. I stood, shaking it a bit. The sinks were directly in front of me, and a giant wall mirror reflected my image back at me. “What do you want freak?” echoed in my head.

I turned on the faucet and splashed my face. What I wanted was to be treated like a human being. To be treated with respect and dignity. To not have to face threats, nasty words, or violence on a regular basis. I just wanted to be myself and to not have to live in fear. But I didn’t get that. Not here at least and certainly not that day. I splashed my face again with water, the cold droplets dripping off my chin and into the steel sink. At least I was still alive. It felt so fragile a hope, one that could be so quickly torn away.

It’s November 2015

I started hormones a year ago now, and am still on a low dose. Fear kept me from starting for so long, but it reached a point where the painful dysphoria was choking the life from me. Now I sit at my desk and read yet another article of another death. Murdered. Suicide. The numbers stack up higher and higher. The death count sinks me into despair. 22, 23 — numbers, names – Zella, Taja, Penny, Vanessa, Kristina, Mya, London, Ashton, India, and so many more who have been taken from us. So many of my trans friends struggle to find jobs, struggle for healthcare, struggle to just survive.

That same hatred and disrespect spewed at me at the University blooms unhindered within our society. I hear it in the jokes told at work about those that don’t pass. I hear it every time a cisgender person complains about gender neutral pronouns. I hear it in the emergency room when nurses joke about my body. I find it at doctors refusing care for fellow trans folks or insurances denying coverage. I see it when trans folks are denied access to bathrooms or verbally or physically harassed in them. I see it every time my partner and I are misgendered, when she receives stares that leave her uncomfortable and concerned for her safety.

Everywhere we go, we walk carefully, cautiously, and always that same question haunts us. Who can we trust? Who will stand with us in our fight for equality?

Yet another of us has died
Murdered by those who hate
The count weighs us down
Will this be all our fate?

To be beaten and broken,
Painted as a vile freak,
Trapped in a web of fear,
Voiceless even when we speak.

A fragile hope burns dimly
Within the dark surrounding us
We reach and clasp hands
To reforge a shattered trust.

Categories: Writing

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