Nov. 20, 2019 is Transgender Day of Remembrance. On Nov. 21, Sexuality and Gender Alliance will be having a ceremony in Sykes Ballroom C at 5 p.m. to lift up the names of the people we lost since last year’s TDOR. It is the day many of us mourn the trans people we’ve lost to things like toxic masculinity, domestic violence and cissexism. Non-Profit Quarterly describes the violence against the trans community as an epidemic and calls for advocacy plans and ways to educate the public in the hopes of creating change sooner rather than later. Due to the disregard and erasure of trans people, it’s hard to find an exact number of the lives we lost, but the most recent number I could find was 23. The majority of the 23 victims were Black trans women.
Because I don’t want this article to be weighed down by a heavy discussion about violence, I’ll keep this brief. Trans people don’t owe anyone anything. Their lives and their existences are just as real and tangible as everyone else’s and we cannot continue to separate trans people from cis people in these violent, deathly ways.
Cisgender people are not granted access to trans people and their bodies because of some misbelief that trans people are second-class citizens that are disposable.
None of us have the right to act violently, especially to the point of death, against someone. And it’s about time we all learn to treat trans people with humanity, protect them from violent masculinity and dehumanization and advocate for and support them as much as we can. That’s what I want to focus on for the second half of this article.
Something people don’t always realize as violent is misgendering someone— but it is. When arguments are made about who “real” women are, trans women and their experiences are left out of conversations about reproductive justice, wage gaps, state and government violence and misogyny. All of these things impact trans women more, especially of those of color, because they’re fighting to be recognized as equal to everyone else. A fight no one deserves to fight. So, when someone tells you they’re a woman, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, agender, a man, etc. you believe them. Use the correct pronouns and the correct name. If you think that’s hard, imagine how must they feel.
…be the person to add some inclusivity to the conversation.
Support trans creatives. There are so many trans people out here selling their art, promoting their businesses, becoming makeup artists etc. and we should be supporting them. The unemployment rates for trans people are so high due to trans discrimination being legal. Therefore, if you have the chance to pay someone for any of their services, do it. Or just slide some money or necessities their way whenever you can.
Be vocal! When your peers are having conversations about women’s rights, health rights, employment, homelessness or anything, be the person to add some inclusivity to the conversation. Solutions for these issues won’t come about if we aren’t including everyone in these conversations. Everyone is free, or absolutely no one will be.
Use gender-neutral language. Whoever tries to say “they” can’t be used as a singular pronoun is wrong. “They” can and should be used singularly, especially when we don’t know how someone identifies. Move away from using “male” and “female” when you can instead say man and woman. Sex (male and female) and gender (man and woman) are not synonymous and should not be used as such. Also, there are so many people out there that are masculine and feminine and aren’t identifying as men and women and they don’t deserve to be called something they’re not. It doesn’t matter if the person is around or not; refer to them exactly how you’re told to.
I end with this: call people out whenever it’s safe to. Listening to your friends and family say nasty and violent things about trans people is not acceptable. It also isn’t the job of trans people to be the only folks speaking up about these things. When someone is misgendering, exhibiting toxic masculinity or is being purposefully obtuse, let them know that they need to change their behavior. Otherwise, don’t stick with them. As I said last week, neutrality doesn’t exist and we need to step up every chance we get.
Nahje Royster is a fourth-year student majoring in women’s and gender studies and minoring in African American studies. NR852569@wcupa.edu