This Nov. 20th, 7PM at Cal Anderson Park, join the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP-USA) and the Q Center at the University of Washington. During the calling out of the names for all of the transgender people murdered in 2010, fire dancers will somberly perform a unique and aesthetically pleasing visual. Various poets from around the country created a YouTube video of their poetry, which will play before and after the vigil. There will also be live poetry performers who will capture the celebration of what it means to be gender-variant in a very gender-binary culture.
SWOP and the Q Center wish to join gender advocates and sex worker allies from around the world in recognizing November 20th, the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. As we approach this day, we seek to come together to remember those who we have lost this year, and to renew our commitment in the on-going struggle for empowerment, visibility, and rights for all transgender people and their loved ones.
Transgender people are subjected to violence a on a daily basis in all countries around the globe. The term ‘transgender’ is an umbrella word used to describe all gender-variant people, although not everyone who is assaulted identifies as transgender — many of them use the terms transsexual, cross-dresser or are otherwise gender-non-specific.
* 33.2% of transgender youth have attempted suicide. Clements-Nolle K., Marx R., Katz M. (2006). Attempted suicide among transgender persons: The influence of gender-based discrimination and victimization. Journal of Homosexuality, 51(3): 53-69.)
* 55% of transgender youth report being physically attacked. (GLSEN. (2003). The 2003 national school climate survey: the school related experiences of our nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.)
* 74% of transgender youth reported being sexually harassed at school, and 90% of transgender youth reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression. (GLSEN. (2001). The 2001 national school climate survey: the school related experiences of our nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.)
* In a survey of 403 transgender people, 78% reported having been verbally harassed and 48% reported having been victims of assault, including assault with a weapon, sexual assault or rape. (Wilchins, R., Lombardi, E., Priesing, D. and Malouf, D. (1997) First national survey of transgender violence. Gender Public Advocacy Coalition.)
* In 2002, a study was published that found that bisexual students in Massachusetts and Vermont were three to six times more likely to use cocaine than their straight classmates. (Robin, L., Brener, N., Donahue, S., Hack, T., Hale, K., Goodenow, C. Associations between health risk behaviors and opposite-, same-, and both-sex sexual partners in representative samples of Vermont and Massachusetts high school students. Archive of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine. Apr;156(4): pp.349-55.)
The International Transgender Day of Remembrance was originally developed as a response to the murder of Rita Hester in 1998. Her murder still has yet to be solved, but what began as a tragedy now also serves as a day to remember the global violence that occurs against transgender people. SWOP-USA commemorates the Day as a memorial and vigil for the victims of gender-related hate-crimes.
During the week of November 20th, queer and sex worker rights organizations all over the world create public awareness and vigils to raise consciousness about violence that is commonly committed against transgender people. These events also often address the intersection of issues relating to stigma and discrimination that allows violence and oppression to occur with impunity. We seek to raise awareness about the barriers faced when attempting to report violence, and promote empowerment and change what has become an unacceptable status quo.
This year’s events include but are not limited to:
• The University of Washington’s Q Center and Ethnic Cultural Center organized a community conversation today 11-16 on the Transgender Day Of Remembrance, working towards justice from a place of grief/trauma and how to move forward with creating a more supportive community. This event will be open to the public.
• The University of Washington’s Q Center put on a “die-in” at Red Square, 11-17 11:00AM-11:30AM. They will mill around looking inconspicuous until the speaker gives the signal (prearranged, so they know what it is beforehand). Then everyone will collapse to the ground as if they had suddenly died. The speaker will then repeat, over and over in a forceful manner, that these represent the bodies of all of the victims of transphobia and hatred. After 10 minutes of this, the speaker will give the signal again and everyone will get up and leave.
• The University of Washington’s Q Center created an event on Friday, 11-19 at Parnassus (basement of Art Building at UW) from 5:30-7:30PM to share and appreciate how beautiful and amazing gender variance is. People will bring spoken word and other talents for their open mic. Gender is powerful, gorgeous, strong, delicate, silly, serious, complicated, shifting, and ours. They will encourage everyone to love their own gender and to celebrate non traditional gender expression! People of all genders are welcome to attend.
• On Nov. 20th, SWOP NW and the University of Washington’s Q Center will be hosting a candlelight vigil with fire performance and poetry from authors around the nation.
• Ingersoll invited Kate Bornstein — a well-known transgender author — to discuss her book, the iconic “Gender Outlaw: on Men, Women and the Rest of Us” challenging the prevailing thought on gender both inside and outside the “gender community.” She constantly pushes the envelope and challenges people to think hard and act out in ways that tweak sensibilities and keep people from getting too comfortable. Kate has published a new book: “Gender Outlaws: the next generation” with S. Bear Bergman. See the INgersoll website for more information.
Every year, the International Transgender Day of Remembrance becomes more embedded in our consciousness as a reminder to all people — allies and transgender people alike — that we are brothers and sisters with unique and brilliant identities. November 20th functions as a reminder about the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, colleagues, and allies who have been lost this year to violence. Please join us in our effort to make fundamental human rights accessible for transgender people and to end the silencing that they experience every day.