The following is from HRC’s Associate Director of Diversity Allyson Robinson:
I was asked recently why violence against transgender people continues when our society seems to have made so much progress toward diversity and inclusion. I answered by pointing out that anti-transgender violence is all about our society’s gender norms, and norms always mean power. Those who adhere to the norms have power, and sadly, those who have power are often all too willing to resort to violence to keep it. Violent acts against transgender people attempt to send a message to the entire transgender and gender-variant community that our departure from the norms will not be tolerated, that we’ll only be allowed to live if we do so on someone else’s terms. That’s tyranny, pure and simple, and until we bring it to an end, transgender people continue to be vulnerable by virtue of the very lives we live.
By simply living our truth in full view of the world each day, transgender people risk hostility, cruelty, and even brutality from those who seek to enforce their norms upon us. Even with all my privilege as a white, well-educated and employed transgender woman, I’ve learned from harsh experience that just walking down the street with my head held high or taking my children into a public restroom can excite violent reactions. For transgender people who don’t have this high level of privilege – the vast majority of our community – things can be much, much worse. Because of the many overlapping prejudices they face, they can quickly find themselves in a deadly spiral of unemployment and homelessness that places them at much higher risk for violence and death. Until we as a nation recognize that the joy of being yourself is a right inherent to everyone, and until we protect that right by enacting laws like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, transgender people will continue to be vulnerable.
This week my wife and children and I, along with friends from my church and my HRC colleagues, joined the transgender community and our allies here in D.C. to commemorate those we’ve lost in the last year to tyranny, prejudice, ignorance and hate. We lit candles in their honor and intoned their names, one by one, as a symbol of our commitment to remember them and to honor their memory with action.
I hope you’ll join with us by attending an observance in your community – and by committing yourself to action that honors the legacy of those we’ve lost.