Last Saturday was the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which was established by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1999 in honor of the murder of Rita Heister. At the LGBTQ retreat that I attended this weekend, a few wonderful students gave a presentation on why this day is so important and the violence and hatred that the transgender community faces every day. They read us statistics that floored me, such as that one third of transgender youth attempt suicide, half report being physically attacked at least once, three fourths have been sexually harassed in school. Among transgender adults, 78% have been verbally harassed and 48% report physical assault, including assault with a weapon and rape.
As you can see, this is a very serious issue. So, what do we do about it? Well, at the retreat, we made promises to ourselves and each other about ameliorating our gender situation or that of others. Although the day has passed, I urge all of you to think about something that you could do to help our trans selves, friends, parents, siblings, classmates, and co-inhabitors of the world. Maybe it’s just being more accepting of other people’s gender, standing up to gender-policing, or maybe it’s getting involved in one of our campus’s LGBTQ groups, specifically GendeRevolution. I, personally, was re-inspired to work on expanding the transgender resources at Barnard, like has happened at Smith.
Maybe one thing you could do, if you think it would be safe, would be to educate some of your family about this issues during thanksgiving. Happy holidays, everyone!