Take a good look at these two beautiful, brave women. They are two of the six transgender women of color murdered in the first 48 days of 2017. Two of the murdered women we know of at least. Transwomen are so often misgendered by police and other officials the crimes against them are not accurately reported for what they are; hate crimes motivated not only by racism but by unadulterated transphobia.
My beautiful, white, 51 year old trans wife has secure employment in a safe environment, a nice home, access to quality transgender sensitive health care, and very good health insurance. She has never experienced the loss of employment or housing because she is transgender. She has never been harassed or beaten because of the color of her skin or gender. I do not lay awake at night wondering if she will make it home safely. We have absolutely no frame of reference here. We are incredibly privileged, we know, and we don’t take one single second for granted. No one has a choice as to their circumstances of birth, not these women, and not us. We didn’t have a choice, we were born white. We didn’t have a choice, Carli and I were raised in families and communities free from the social strife and challenges faced by so many families of color. Not once did we have to go to bed hungry, cold, alone, or in danger. She will NEVER know what it is like to be a transgender woman of color and I will never know what it is like to be married to a transgender woman of color.
But I can be angry, frustrated, heartbroken, sad, stunned, confused, scared, disappointed, ANGRY…… We don’t know what to do, but we will keep working to figure it out. We will use our privilege as best we can to advocate for positive change, be visible because we aren’t as big a target as transwomen of color, speak out as often and loudly as possible. But how do we know where to direct our efforts when we can’t pinpoint the origin of the problem?
What on Earth is going on here?! Do we blame this on an administration that emboldens hateful behavior? In part, maybe. Is this happening because we aren’t teaching religion in schools? I don’t think so. Or are we experiencing the death throws at the end of an evolutionary cycle, making way for a dramatic shift in our culture? I sincerely hope this is it.
I hope Carli and I live long enough to see a dramatic cultural shift. A shift that sways the heart towards empathy and the mind towards logic. A shift that allows for peaceful coexistence of freedom and equality. A shift towards critical thinking, common sense, loving your neighbor, and level reason. A shift towards an actual representative government.
I started writing this post at 7:00am and I’m finishing at 9:00pm. Two important things happened during those few hours.
The Indiana state legislature defeated hate crimes legislation, leaving this state one of just five in the country with no additional provisions written into law for crimes motivated by race, religious, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
A seventh transgender woman of color was murdered.