Transgender Day of Rememberance

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, observed in honour of people who have died as a result of their gender identity or perceived gender identity. Vigils and memorials are held all over the United States today, so since my own local LGBT student group isn’t holding its observance until next week, I’ll say that my sympathies are with anyone who has been persecuted or victimized on account of gender identity — not only today, but at any time.

I suppose I’ll use this day and this post to talk about the concept of “transgender”. (I think the idea of writing primarily longer posts is a good plan.)

So. As far as I know, the standard definition of “transgender” is that of someone whose emotional gender identity does not match their biological sex. (As they explained at the first meeting of the Gay-Straight Alliance in ninth grade, “sex” is the six inches between your legs and “gender” is the six inches between your ears.) “Transgender” does cover people who are “transsexual” — who have sought or are seeking to make their biological sex match their gender, such as through operation. However, the term also incorporates people who may not identify as one particular gender or sex, or who may identify as a “third” gender not associated with human anatomy. I’m sure I’ve left something out, but I do that. I suppose it’s something you’ll have to get used to.

Of course, it goes without saying that any transgender person should be treated with the same respect and understanding as someone who is not transgendered, and that to assault someone (whether physically or otherwise) for being or seeming transgendered is as reprehensible as assaulting someone because they are not white, because they are not wealthy, or because they are not straight. In fact, I find it more difficult to understand why someone else’s gender identity should be an excuse for violence than why someone would commit violence in the first place.

(You’ll see a theme in my posts where I tend to relate things to my own life. I don’t see it as narcissistic, necessarily, or self-absorbed. I am reflecting on this day from my own perspective because it deserves reflection.)

When my LGBT group asked for volunteers to help organise Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) events, I volunteered, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly. I’m usually highly inactive in the group, but TDOR seemed so much more worth it than a movie night or discussion or even every student LGBT group’s biggest event of the year, the Day of Silence (more on why I don’t observe the DoS some other time). See, the thing was this: I thought to myself, “I should take an interest in this. This could happen to me.”

I don’t call myself transgender, because I don’t feel like I’m other than female. While my outer “look” is an androgynous or even masculine one, I’ve only had the very occasional wish to pee standing up, or to just jack off without all this female masturbation repression nonsense. I’ve adopted the term “genderqueer”, as a way of explaining that I don’t conform to the “male = masculine”/”female = feminine” concept, and that I do sometimes like to pass as male (though it should be noted that I’ve never gone “all the way” with that — I’ve never, for example, entered a men’s washroom).

As invariably happens, I get “sir”ed reasonably frequently, and a few times I’ve been told I’m in the wrong washroom or locker room (though mostly I just get weird looks). I’ve never really had a problem with that, I just say I’m a chick and the other chicks look at me funny and then go their merry way. But what if that didn’t happen? What if, instead, I were challenged? What if I were forced to display my tits to be believed, what if I were dismissed as a freak of nature, what if short hair, no makeup, and the cargo pants and sweatshirt I’m wearing right now are an excuse for assault, for rape, for murder?

Maybe I’m just being paranoid. After all, you can generally see my female body under my clothes; my voice is an unmistakable alto. But maybe I’m not. And that’s hardly the point, anyway; the fact that I can envision the scenario with me as the victim just makes the problem of transgender persecution all the more real and all the more frightening. And hey, if it persuades me to take an active role in my LGBT group and work to stop violence, a little frightening is definitely a good thing.

I hope you’re scared.


One Response to “Transgender Day of Rememberance”

  1. Horrah for genderqueers!
    Hopefully a new age of androgony will come and we shall all live in peace with our genders and the genders of others.
    Getting ‘sir’ed is something to be proud of. I never get called ‘miss’ no matter how hard i try. :)

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