Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Finished My Vigil: How I Spent My Transgender Day of Remembrance

On my way to the comic book store, I figured I could skip the trip when I saw the vigil outside the Whitman Walker clinic here in DC. Whitman Walker is a health clinic that serves the gay, transgender, and HIV-positive community. The vigil was commemorating the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

This is the day when we honor those transgender people who were murdered in hate crimes. Those who have died are recorded on a long list, much like those killed in Vietnam. A list of many of the names can be found here.

This day has relevance to the recent motion of hate crimes law in the U.S. Congress. This bill will likely be vetoed by Bush because his political base is very intolerant towards gays and transgender people. Whether Bush himself is a bigot is hard to see. But the veto will come the same.

My old boss Mara Kiesling was there. She's executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Yes, she was born a man, but her heart had a different story.

She spoke to the crowd, and said that while physical violence was the reason we were here tonight, we need to remember all the other types of violence. There is the violence of poverty, discrimination, and disrespect. Transgender people are rejected to the point where they have trouble finding economic means of supporting themselves. This is true especially for young trans people, since young people are more likely to be economically vulnerable than older people. Not that the older trans don't suffer. In fact, the wrongful treatment that old people receive in general can be exacerbated for elderly trans people, and I imagine some of htis affects the middle-aged.

There was a black gospel choir, with every voice and gender stripe. We saw trans leaders of color, who led organizations that serve transgender people.

This was a wonderful thing to see. My candle started to conflagrate, but I held it even after I blew it out.

I saw Tyrone Hanley, of GenderPAC, whom I met for a lobby day two years ago. We smiled and said hi and bye. I searched for Mara, hugged her, and I parted for my friend's happy hour.

Which I ended up missing and my brother's still with her. Home alone! oye.

Here's to equality...

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