Saturday, November 20, 2010

Goodnight, Dear Martyrs

Today is the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day for reflection on hate crimes against transgender people. Across the nation, communities are hosting vigils to mourn the murders of transgender hate crime victims, and I attended one such vigil this evening.

TransCentral PA, Equality Pennsylvania, the LGBT Community Center Coalition of Central Pennsylvania, and other organizations hosted a vigil on the steps of the capitol building in Harrisburg, PA this evening. Dozens of attendees gathered in a circle, with Silent Witness Peacekeepers forming a protective rim outside the circle. The mood was humble, reverent, full of sorrow but also full of hope for a better future.

Various speakers discussed transphobic violence, the deaths of individual victims, their respect for brave transgender friends, and the importance of remembering those who have passed. After the sun set, a group of volunteers with candles read accounts of individual hate crime victims, blowing out their candles one by one. A woman from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape discussed the prevalence of sexual violence against transgender people and the fact that transphobic hate crimes often have sexual elements. At various points in the vigil, a young poet read poetry that mourned the snuffing out of innocent lives. One poem, lamenting the murders of victims who were ahead of their time, ended with the line, "Goodnight, dear martyrs, goodnight."

Goodnight, dear martyrs, goodnight.

Transphobic discrimination and violence must stop. Until that day comes, we must not forget the transgender victims of hate crimes, and we must continue to struggle for justice. Anything less would dishonor the innocent dead.

When Religious Right figures demonize LGBT people, or condemn hate crime legislation, or begrudge rights to LGBT citizens, do they understand that they are promoting harmful transphobia -- and that transphobia has deadly consequences around the world?

For additional commentary on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, visit the links below:

International Transgender Day of Remembrance

Human Rights Campaign: Transgender Day of Remembrance

GLAAD Blog: What Does Transgender Day of Remembrance Mean to You – Q&A with Ethan St. Pierre

Edge Boston: Activists Differ Over Transgender Day of Remembrance's Tone

RH Reality Check: Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance

The DV8: International Transgender Day of Remembrance

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