Reclaim the Night campaigns for an end to Violence Against Women, challenging street harassment and ending rape culture. On the 24th April 2015 100 women marched through the streets of Liverpool, loud and proud.
The Rallying point included a host of wonderful women speakers and performers, among them was Sophie Green who proudly spoke on behalf of Transgender Day of remembrance. This is her full speech.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is held annually on the 20th November.
Across the world candlelit vigils and events are held to remember those lives that have been lost; killed due to transphobic violence and discrimination. Transgender communities and their allies came together across the globe to read the names of the dead and honour their passing.
If I wasn’t being objectified with unwanted attention from guys in clubs because I was trans, then I might be subjected to a bit of transphobic abuse on the way home.
Last year Liverpool marked the day with several events, among them there were talks at the Museum of Liverpool’s April Ashley archive; and the raising of the Transgender Pride flag by members of the trans community above Liverpool Town Hall.
In St John’s Gardens, people gathered to read aloud the names of the 270 transgender people whose lives were known to have been lost due to transphobic violence.
Being transgender can place you on the furthest fringe of society, experiencing high levels of discrimination. A lack of legal protections aside, many counties have no adequate gender recognition laws and little or no trans specific health care. Without family or financial support how do you successfully transition and allow yourself to flourish?
In the United States transgender women of colour continue to be the victims of murder and violence.
- Of the 14 US transgender murders reported 10 were trans women of color.
- 40% of all LGBT US murders were of trans women.
- 15 of those murdered were trans women under the age of 19.
- Brazil, rife with transphobia, accounted for 58% of all reported trans murders.
- Closer to home, recorded hate crimes in England and Wales for 2013/14 show a 54% increase in transgender hate crime.
So what can happen when you fight back?
Trans woman Cece Mcdonald and her friends were subjected to a transphobic and racist attack in her hometown of Minneapolis. Following a verbal assault, Cece was struck in the face with glass, When Cece tried to run her assailant chased her. Scared for her life Cece pulled a pair of scissors from her bag stabbing the man in the chest, killing him.
Cece didn’t fit the standard narrative, she survived; on any other day she would have been another name to the TDOR role call. But she stood her ground, refusing to die. For fighting back Cece served 19 months for manslaughter, in a men’s prison.
The names recorded for #TDOR are the tip of the iceberg. Many more murders are unreported, and others victims not identified as trans in reports, or whose trans identities have been erased in the wake of their deaths, as was the case with transgender teen Leeah Alcorn.
Leelah Alcorn was raised in a conservative Christian household in Ohio. At age 14 Leelah came out as transgender to her parents, who refused to accept her female gender identity. At 16 the denied her request to undergo transition treatment, instead sending her to Christian conversion therapy.
With a lack of family support, and seeing no future for herself, Leelah took her own life.
Leelah’s suicide note soon went viral, and her family quickly stepped in to remove her blog and with it her trans identity.
Without the pixies of the internet saving her blog and re-posting, Leelah’s whole trans history, her identity, her calls for acceptance and support for others like her could have been lost. How many other trans lives have been erased like this?
Growing up I didn’t know who I was; I didn’t know the word transgender and I certainly didn’t know anyone like me.
I saw approximations of people I thought were like me, caricatures on television, punchlines in newspapers, the message I was getting about trans was not good. The media’s representations of trans women were as punchlines, perverts, or deceivers, people to be mocked. Trans women were viewed as mocking femininity and to be avoided at all costs.
I was a scared teen; I didn’t want anyone to know I was one of those people so I hid myself from the world, I was suffocating as I let life go on around me.
The weight of gender dysphoria eventually became so great that for me it was transition or……I’d exhausted my options, and transition was the only I could see myself having any kind of a future.
Many trans women are particularly visible at the beginning of their transitions, lack of confidence in your appearance to ‘pass’ and the absence of girlhood experience makes the world an incredibly scary place to be, you have to push yourself out of the door every day.
I found myself in potentially dangerous situations to feel validated as female. If I wasn’t being objectified with unwanted attention from guys in clubs because I was trans, then I might be subjected to a bit of transphobic abuse on the way home. I placed little value on who I was. I had been conditioned to believe that nobody would want a relationship with a trans girl and I should be grateful for any affection I could get.
It took years for me to truly find myself, to accept myself and to begin to love myself.
We are beginning to move forward. I now find myself in a place where the transgender movement is gathering momentum with more and more trans identified people standing up and sharing their stories, supporting and empowering each other. We stand on the shoulders of giants, brave pioneers, and now we are beginning to tell our stories and write our own histories.
With each advance, we gain more allies, and more informed voices to effect a positive change. I’m involved in workshops in schools and am amazed when the kids tell me what transgender means, there’s a long way to go for acceptance, but it’s incredibly encouraging.
Being visibly transgender isn’t an option for everyone, but for those that are able, transgender visibility creates empathy and that leads to acceptance, it’s a positive thing for everybody. Changing societies attitudes is key to winning rights and penalising those who try to hurt us, the trans movement needs its allies!
Ultimately, I’ve come to realise that with the right support to help you through, there is nothing wrong with being Trans.
It’s other people that try to make it a problem.