My name is Tristan and as the LGBTQ+ Society president, LGBT+ Campaigns Network member and trans student here at the University, I have been given this opportunity to share my thoughts on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Today, the 20th November, is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), an internationally recognised day to honour all the trans people who have been lost as a result of transphobic violence and abuse. On this day every year, transgender people and our allies take the time to recognise and mourn these people, many of whom were women of colour and/or young people.
The statistics aren't shocking to me anymore. I hear that 48% of trans people in this country have attempted suicide and 41% have experienced a hate crime in the past year, and I honestly can't say I'm surprised. Saddened, angry, often demoralised - but not surprised.
There is a certain level of background transphobia which has become so normalised that the mainstream media is able to publish regular transphobic articles that further feed this culture in which some people to believe harming a trans person is not only allowable but commendable. Support and safety are not guaranteed, even from the medical services who are supposed to ‘first, do no harm’.
I have to recognise my relative privilege here because it is trans women, especially trans women of colour and/or sex workers who are victims of the most violence. They are the ones most likely to be directly killed and the mixture of misogyny, whorephobia and/or racism with the violent transphobia puts them even more at risk of abuse and violence, a fact which is even more true in countries with fewer protections for trans people. But we are all suffering and too many are dying, whether it is because of direct violent attacks or because death seems like a better option than life with an onslaught of harassment and abuse.
Here at the University of Huddersfield, I'd like to think we're lucky. The very fact that I'm writing this for the Students' Union shows a level of commitment to understanding and supporting trans people. It's not perfect by any means, but I'd hope all trans people here are safe and supported enough that none of their names will end up read out at a vigil. But we don't live in isolation from the rest of the world where so many terrible things are happening, and trans people need continued support and allyship. Treating acts of transphobia as unacceptable helps to push back against the culture that fosters hate crimes. Supporting trans people and our causes helps to counteract the hopelessness and both implicit and explicit messages that suicide is our best option.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day to mourn the dead, but it should also serve as a reminder to fight for the living and our right to remain that way. For each name read out at a vigil and each name that has been lost, written over with an incorrect identity on a gravestone, I send out a silent plea of ‘no more’. And if enough people join me, I hope dearly that we can turn that plea into a promise.