Trans Day of Remembrance 2019
"I think the world is lucky we chose to have a day of remembrance and not revenge."
I worried slightly, at the time of posting that status last Trans Day Of Remembrance that it was too much, too over the top, too inflammatory, and too simplistic. Now, as we approach another Day Of Remembrance, it's a sentiment I've never felt more.
Trans Day Of Remembrance (TDOR), which takes place on November 20th, is when the Transgender community mourn our dead. Traditionally, we come together for vigils and gatherings, in which the ever increasing list of those we have lost to transphobic and transmisognyist violence is named and mourned. Overwhelmingly this list is populated with trans gender women of colour, and in America alone more than twenty black trans women and trans women of colour have been murdered so far this year. Transmisogynist violence in particular intersects heavily with racism and misogynoir (the hatred of black women) to cause women in these groups to be heavily over represented.
In recent years, TDOR has inspired criticism for it's supposed political apathy, and its loss of focus on those most affected by transphobic violence, with issues of race and class often overlooked in favour of a far more simplistic narrative that all trans people are equally at risk of violence. With that said, TDOR is also a touchstone for political activism, and frequently anger. How can it not be? When one is faced with the enormity of such loss, and such violent loss, how can we as a community be expected to simply mourn and move on?
The last several years have seen a rapid and spiraling decline in the rights of transgender people world wide, with Trump, Johnson, and Bolsonaro pushing populist far right politics, the few and slim rights we as a transgender community have fought for are being stripped. Culturally too, despite a few shreds of recognition, it has never been a more hostile time to be transgender in my living memory. Even I, someone shielded by whiteness and a middle class privilege, have spent many months living in fear of violent reprisals for the right wing pressure continued attacks on us. And it cannot be stated enough, in the United States Of America, and the wider Americas, there is an epidemic of violence against young black trans women and trans women of colour, seemingly unaddressed and allowed to flourish.
In this context, Trans Day Of Remembrance cannot be seen simply as space to mourn and be full of sorrow, it must be a day to galvanise us, it must be a day to organise us, and it must be a day to make us, as a community, angry. As the great queer orator and playwright Larry Kramer said, "If we don't get angry, and I mean really fucking angry, we are as good as dead."
I want to finish by repeating my initial sentiment, that the world is lucky that we chose remembrance and not revenge, but I want to caveat that my remembrance is my revenge, that it is why we fight, and that remembrance can never be anything but deeply and inherently political.
This post was written by Marilyn Misandry.
Marilyn Misandry is a queer performance artist, clown, and writer who works and plays in Manchester. Her work can be found on many platforms and publications including The Independent and New Statesman. In her free time she enjoys buffet dining and 90s sitcoms.