Here’s to the day we no longer need TDOR

By Rizi Xavier Timane

13th

Rizi Xavier Timane

Every year on Nov. 20, transgender individuals and their allies around the world commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

But make no mistake: This is not a holiday, and the ceremonies we hold are certainly not celebrations.

Rather, the Day of Remembrance is a solemn time when we can come together and reflect on the battles we have fought and continue to fight and those individuals we have lost — the transgender and other gender-nonconforming individuals who were innocent victims of violence because of who they were, because they had the audacity to live as their authentic selves.

I would like to say I’ve never experienced this extreme sort of prejudice before, but like most trans people, I have my stories. While I thank God there have never been any attempts on my life, there have been people around me who thought I would be better off — or they would be better off — if I were dead. While I was a university student in London, another young person studying there passed away, and some of my fellow African students (I am from Nigeria) made a point of saying, loudly and closely enough that they knew I would hear, that it should have been me instead.

Besides the defeating personal implications of hearing such a thing, this incident continues to be a sad reminder to me of how deeply many people undervalue transgender lives and how, at any moment, someone out there could hate us enough to kill us. It reminds me that it could easily be our pictures shown at memorial services on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

But this is part of what the day is for: to remind us that we all share this heavy burden, that we are not alone in our persecution and suffering.

Is this comforting? In some ways, yes. It’s always a comfort to know someone else feels as we do.

But it’s also problematic. That we even have to have such a day is, in my opinion, shameful not for those of us who participate or those we remember but for society as a whole — for the culture of conformity and hatred that keeps us hidden within ourselves, afraid to come out for fear of rejection and outright violence.

I don’t want a day of remembrance. I want a Pride day, like the LGB community has. Or no day at all because the murders of transgender individuals have ended in every nation around the world.

How can we make this happen? How can we eradicate the need for a Transgender Day of Remembrance?

In general we need more allies, more compassion, more understanding and more tolerance. We need more safe spaces in which we can raise our voices and share our stories. We need mandatory diversity training in schools and universities, police departments, hospitals and businesses so everyone will be aware of and understand transgender individuals and issues. We need nationwide laws to ban discrimination based on gender identity and presentation.

We need all this for our safety. Most of all, we simply need the deaths to stop.

Rizi Xavier Timane is a transgender minister, author, recording artist and outspoken advocate for the LGBT community. He has performed his positive, LGB-inclusive inspirational music at venues all across the U.S. and internationally. In his memoir, An Unspoken Compromise, Timane shares his journey to self-acceptance as a trans man of faith; he also writes for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance blog, is a sought-after public speaker on the intersection of religion and LGBT civil rights, and holds a master’s in social work and a Ph.D. in Christian counseling.  As the founder of Rizi Timane Ministries and The Happy Transgender Center, he provides affirming spiritual support to people of all faiths, sexual orientations and gender identities. Having been subjected to what he terms, “involuntary religious-based abuse” in the form of multiple exorcisms to pray the gay or trans away and the subsequent self-loathing and drug/alcohol abuse that resulted from that Timane is a firm believer in spiritual affirmation for the trans community. His greatest accomplishment has been the establishment of an annual transgender surgery and hormones scholarship for trans-persons who, for whatever reason, cannot afford the surgery or hormone therapy they want and need.

—  Tammye Nash

President Obama issues memorandum on protecting LGBTs abroad

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Four days in advance of  Human Rights Day on Saturday, Dec. 10,  President Barack Obama today issued a presidential memorandum “to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” according to a statement just released by the White House press office.

The statement sent out by the White House includes these comments by the president:

“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.  I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.  That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”  Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.  Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.”

The memorandum from Obama directs agencies to combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad; protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers; leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination; ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad; engage international organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination, and report on progress.

I give the president credit for issuing the memorandum at the same time he’s gearing up for what will likely be a tough re-election campaign during which opponents will no doubt use his stance and actions on LGBT issues against him. But I still have to point out that we as LGBT people still face discrimination and inequality right here in the good old U.S.-of-A:

• Our marriages are legally recognized at the federal level and they aren’t recognized in the VAST majority of state and local jurisdictions. We want the Defense of Marriage Act repealed and local and state ordinances and constitutional amendments prohibiting recognition of our relationships need to be overturned.

• There is still no federal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/gender expression and gender identity. Congress needs to pass — the president needs to sign — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

• Even though there is now a federal hate crimes law that includes LGBT people, as well as similar laws at many state and local levels, those laws are not well enforced.

Anti-LGBT bullying remains a deadly problem in our schools and our workplaces and on the Internet. We’ve made progress in combating such bullying, but not nearly enough. Dedicate the resources necessary to address the issue effectively.

So let’s applaud our president for the steps he has — and is — taking. There’s no doubt Obama has been more open than any other president about addressing LGBT issues and we have seen great strides forward toward equality during his administration. But there’s a long way to go yet, and we need to make sure that the president — and all our elected officials — know they can’t just rest on their laurels.

—  admin

ALLGO seeking LGBTQ people of color who’ve experienced violence to participate in study

ALLGO, a statewide organization for queer people of color, is looking for transgender, lesbian, bisexual, gay and queer people of color who have experienced violence in their lives to participate in confidential, two-hour small group discussions asaprt of an effort to “understand what violence people have encountered, witnessed, or been affected by; how they think these experiences have or have not changed them; and why people respond to their experiences of violence in the way they choose.”

The project is being conducted in partnership with the UT Community Engagement Center. Elvia Mendoza and David Glisch-Sanchez will conduct the small group discussions, scheduled to take place this Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave. in Dallas; and Thursday, Aug. 11, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at a location in San Antonio to be announced later.

Anyone who identifies as a person of color and who also identifies as transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, same-gender-loving and/or two-spirit, and who is a resident of Texas and at least 16 years old — and who has experienced some sort of violence in their life — is eligible to participate. Those who are interested in participating should contact Glisch-Sanchez by email at glisch.sanchez@gmail.com.

—  admin

COH’s Jo Hudson on Osama bin Laden’s death: ‘Does violence ever create less violence?’

The Rev. Jo Hudson

“While I believe that the death of bin Laden may offer us the feeling that justice has been done and the hope that we may be seeing the end of the ‘War on Terror,’ I also ponder what it means to ‘celebrate’ the death of another person, even if that person has created untold violence and death. As I watched the celebrations in the streets of our country I couldn’t help wonder, ‘Does violence ever create less violence?’

“So, is there a way we can be patriotic without being nationalistic; a way to understand the consequences bin Laden experienced for inciting violence without reveling in his killing? In our anger and hurt we often believe revenge is the best response. Perhaps that is because it helps us to feel safer or makes us feel like our country is superior. However, Jesus was clear when he said, ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies …’ And while it may make you uncomfortable to think about loving someone like bin Laden or forgiving him, that is exactly what Jesus did. He made people uncomfortable by proclaiming a different way, a way of unconditional forgiveness and radical love, even forgiving those who executed him.”

— The Rev. Jo Hudson, senior pastor at the Cathedral of Hope, in a Pastoral Reflection sent to members this morning. Read the article in its entirety here.

—  John Wright

Keith Olbermann Special Comment: Violence and threats have no place in democracy.

Countdown’s Keith Olbermann tonight:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Partial transcript (full transcript here):

This morning in Arizona, this time of the ever-escalating, borderline-ecstatic invocation of violence in fact or in fantasy in our political discourse, closed. It is essential tonight not to demand revenge, but to demand justice; to insist not upon payback against those politicians and commentators who have so irresponsibly brought us to this time of domestic terrorism, but to work to change the minds of them and their supporters – or if those minds tonight are too closed, or if those minds tonight are too unmoved, or if those minds tonight are too triumphant, to make sure by peaceful means that those politicians and commentators and supporters have no further place in our system of government.

If Sarah Palin, whose website put and today scrubbed bullseye targets on 20 Representatives including Gabby Giffords, does not repudiate her own part in amplifying violence and violent imagery in politics, she must be dismissed from politics – she must be repudiated by the members of her own party, and if they fail to do so, each one of them must be judged to have silently defended this tactic that today proved so awfully foretelling, and they must in turn be dismissed by the responsible members of their own party.

If Jesse Kelly, whose campaign against Congresswoman Giffords included an event in which he encouraged his supporters to join him firing machine guns, does not repudiate this, and does not admit that even if it was solely indirectly, or solely coincidentally, it contributed to the black cloud of violence that has envellopped our politics, he must be repudiated by Arizona’s Republican Party.

If Congressman Allen West, who during his successful campaign told his supporters that they should make his opponent afraid to come out of his home, does not repudiate those remarks and all other suggestions of violence and forced fear, he should be repudiated by his constituents and the Republican Congressional Caucus.

If Sharron Angle, who spoke of “Second Amendment solutions,” does not repudiate that remark and urge her supporters to think anew of the terrible reality of what her words implied, she must be repudiated by her supporters in Nevada.

If the Tea Party leaders who took out of context a Jefferson quote about blood and tyranny and the tree of liberty do not understand – do not understand tonight, now what that really means, and these leaders do not tell their followers to abhor violence and all threat of violence, then those Tea Party leaders must be repudiated by the Republican Party.

If Glenn Beck, who obsesses nearly as strangely as Mr. Loughner did about gold and debt and who wistfully joked about killing Michael Moore, and Bill O’Reilly, who blithely repeated “Tiller the Killer” until the phrase was burned into the minds of his viewers, do not begin their next broadcasts with solemn apologies for ever turning to the death-fantasies and the dreams of bloodlust, for ever having provided just the oxygen to those deep in madness to whom violence is an acceptable solution, then those commentators and the others must be repudiated by their viewers, and by all politicians, and by sponsors, and by the networks that employ them.

And if those of us considered to be “on the left” do not re-dedicate ourselves to our vigilance to eliminate all our own suggestions of violence – how ever inadvertent they might have been then we too deserve the repudiation of the more sober and peaceful of our politicians and our viewers and our networks.

NOTE: Blender Brad Smith has been feverishly capturing Free Republic posts before they were yanked. You can read them here. Brad:

I got a few clips of the postings – you can see them behind the cut. They’re itching to lay the blame for the shooting on an ‘illegal’, a gang member, a liberal, or a Muslim. It is noteworthy that many of the postings I saw were offering condolences for the victims and were also saddened by this tragedy.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Antigay Violence on the Rise in Senegal

SENEGAL X390 ADVOCATE.COM Beatings, arrests, and lynchings have increased significantly in the capital city of the west African nation, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. 
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Violence Mars St. Petersburg Gay Rights Demo

GAY PROTEST IN ST PETERSBURG X390 (RIANOVOSTI) | ADVOCATE.COMThe first state-sanctioned gay rights demonstration in Russia was disrupted Saturday by antigay protesters in St. Petersburg, including older women and skinheads who threw eggs.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

First State-Approved Gay March Held In Russia Ends With Violence

Russia Radio Free Europe reports: "Local reports say Orthodox Christians and other radicals attempted to forcibly break up Russia's first state-approved gay rights march in St. Petersburg. The report said police arrested at least 10 people and that the march was broken off after 40 minutes due to violence."

Hateful protesters, which reportedly included "old ladies and skinheads," shouted and threw eggs at the gay rights advocates and also, after grabbing the rainbow flag out of the hands of the marchers, proceeded to tear it up.

According to the AFP news agency, despite the violence, participants are looking at the positive side of this: "'the fact that this demonstration was authorised is a step forward for us and for all of democratic Russia,' said Maria Efremenkova, one of the organisers. The group was outnumbered by counter-protesters and were guarded by police."

Earlier this year, gay rights organizers held two successful 10-minute "flash" pride parades in Russia, the first time in years that one such march did not end in violence.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Shattering the silence surrounding anti-LGBTQ violence

On November 16, 2010, just days after the 72nd anniversary of the Nazi’s opening salvo against the Jews, Kristallnacht, the United Nations voted to remove sexual orientation from the UN resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

“This is a shameful day in United Nations history. It gives a de facto green light to the on-going murder of LGBT people by homophobic regimes, death squads and vigilantes. They will take comfort from the fact that the UN does not endorse the protection of LGBT people against hate-motivated murder,” said U.K. gay rights and human rights leader Peter Tatchell.

Very timely then that Queer Rising and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST), New York City’s synagogue for LGBTQ Jews, had just released this video.  The video draws parallels between Kristallnacht and the increasing, largely unchallenged violence faced by LGBTQ people around the world, and announces the upcoming action In God’s Name: Hate is the Abomination.  

On December 16th, the eve of the 10th of Tevet, the National Remembrance Day of those who have died in violence whose names might not otherwise be remembered, the group will march to Prospect Park in Brooklyn and recite together the Mourner’s Kaddish so that Jews and non-Jews may remember of all those whose lives have been destroyed due to anti-LGBTQ violence.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi of CBST:

Seventy-two years ago, a lifetime away, state-sponsored terrorism chose to attack our people, the Jewish people in the lands then governed by Germany, but soon to be spread to counties all over eastern, western and southern Europe.

The significance of Kristallnacht is not only that 91 people were killed that night, or that close to 2,000 synagogues were destroyed forever – buildings, houses of worship which had been sacred in our community for hundreds of years.  Nor that 30,000 men were arrested and taken to concentrations camps, a thousand of whom died there.  Most were returned.

But the significance of Kristallnacht was not the just individual experience of Jews in those cities that night.  It wasn’t just that the Nazis levied a tax on the Jewish people to actually clean up from the damage done that night by the hate-filled pogroms.  But it was that moment, that night on November 9 and November 10th that the words of hatred which had been fueling the fire since the rise of National Socialism in 1933 turned from language to violence.

From 1933 to 1938 there was a series of laws enacted which slowly and inexorably separated out the Jews from the rest of the German population.  The Nuremberg Laws made it impossible to Jews to own businesses, to hire non-Jews, to be hired, to go to certain theaters, to be in public spheres of life.

But what really changed on this night 72 years ago was that all that language that started to isolate Jews made it possible for neighbors who had been neighbors for hundreds of years to take up the machete, to take up the gun and to shatter these houses of worship and kill Jews.

After that there was no going back and in some ways we know that Hitler was using these moments in history to see precisely how the world would react.  Would there be silence, or would there be condemnation?  Would there be an uprising, an outrage from Jews and non-Jews from countries all over the world saying this kind of treatment of citizens would not be tolerated?  There was silence, and we all know the outcome of that story.

Hitler only gained more and more power in  attacking the Jews, and it was not far from this night of  November 9th and 10th, 1938 to the unrolling of the Final Solution itself in the 1940s.  

What we are doing here today is to first of all say words matter.  How words are used and how words target and isolate individuals and groups matter.  And as Jews we reject the idea that any language is OK in order to describe someone differently or in ways that are painful.  We reject that.

And most importantly, we will put our bodies on the line to protect those whose physical beings are at risk, not only their spiritual and their emotional beings.

So I’m proud to join together with Jake Goodman and with Queer Rising to make sure that 72 years from today, we can say we were among those who heard the glass shattering in our own cities, in our own states, understood it was our own kind of Kristallnacht happening, but we did whatever we could do to make sure the silence was shattered not just the glass.  To make sure that this would not go any further and that there would be those of us who would stand up with full voice and with full body to prevent anything from going inexorably on.

Join us in December and join us on this path.  Join us through the Queer Rising website or the CBST website.  Join in community as we fight these forces that depend on us to be silent.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

The face of anti-trans violence

As North Texans commemorate Trans Day of Remembrance, one trans woman remembers the attack she survived as a child

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Winter Mullenix
Winter Mullenix

To many people, statistics on anti-transgender violence are just numbers. Astounding, perhaps frightening, but still just numbers.

Winter Mullenix is the face of one of those numbers. One of many.

Mullenix was attacked when she was 9 years old by someone who had apparently been stalking her for a while.

“He was disgusted by my behavior. I was living as a boy, but it was obvious to everyone,” she said, describing herself. “I would dance and prance and I hung out with the girls.”

Mullenix said that when she was a child, she would sneak out of the house at night and go to a nearby playground. She isn’t sure now what time she left the night she was attacked, but, she said, she knows she had waited until everyone in the house was sound asleep.

“He jumped me,” she said. “He was hiding near the playground.”

Mullenix said her attacker jumped out from behind a tree or maybe even from inside the hollowed-out old tree. Then he grabbed her and dragged her down to a creek near the playground.

“If you want to be a woman, you have to learn to bleed like a woman,” he told her.

Then he put a knife into her rectum and cut the skin around her tailbone. Then he raped her, using her blood as lubricant, she said.

Before he left her, Mullenix said, he asked, “You don’t want to be a little girl anymore, do you, faggot?”

Those words are burned into her memory, proof that the attack was a hate crime and not just the actions of a violent pedophile.

When he was done, he left Mullenix for dead, laying in a pipe connected to the sewer.

Her memory of getting home is blurry. She told no one about what happened and healed without medical attention. Her attacker was never caught, at least not for this crime. Mullenix never reported the rape.

“I became numb,” she said. “I cut myself off from the world.”

Mullenix said she became delusional and entered a fantasyland to mask her pain. But things started to change five years later when she began the process of coming out as transgender at age 14. She was having severe nightmares.

“I’d doodle a lot during class,” she said. “My Spanish teacher noticed I was drawing very violent things. She worried about what was happening to me and sent me to a school counselor.”

The school counselor referred Mullenix to outside counseling until she achieved her goal at age 20 of having sex reassignment surgery.

“I was focused,” Mullenix said.

She had determination uncommon in a teenager.

Although continuing to dress as a male until age 17, Mullenix knew who she was when she began going to counseling. Throughout her teens she was determined to complete her transition early. She worked, saved money and paid for the surgery herself.

Despite the words of her attacker, Mullenix knew exactly what she wanted and who she was.

“I felt as normal as I could when I completed the transition,” she said.

But Mullenix still suffers the psychological effects of the brutal attack. She has panic attacks and a fear of the dark.

“I can’t sleep without a light on,” she said.

She’s paranoid that someone is going to sneak up behind her and jump her. She scares easily. She’s uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.

“People think I’m a creature of habit,” Mullenix said. But she actually just avoids unfamiliar places.

“I survived,” she said. “But I have friends who died from violent crimes.”

“The homicide rate for transgenders is so high,” said Marla Compton, the coordinator for GEAR, the transgender program at Resource Center Dallas.

Human Rights Campaign estimates that one out of every 1,000 homicides in the U.S. is an anti-transgender hate crime.

“We do have to be more careful,” Mullenix said. “Violence is more likely for us.”

Despite her experiences, Mullenix said that she can’t let what happened control her life.

“[You] have to take control and take proper precautions,” she said. “For me, I’m happily married now and I have some great, supportive friends.”

Mullenix also stressed that a violent situation doesn’t have to mean the end of a normal life.

“I want transgender youth to know they shouldn’t let fear control them if something terrible happened and they survived it,” she said.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is important to Mullenix because it displays unity within the LGBT community.

“It acknowledges us as part of the community,” she said.

“The day gives us a chance to pause and remember those who left us and cherish those who are still here,” Compton said.

She said that having friends and allies attend a TDoR event is emotional and uplifting to her. But she also said that it helps others understand the violence the transgender community faces.

“Fortunately, I’ve never had to read the name of a friend at TDoR,” Compton said.

But too many others have.

Dallas’ Transgender Day of Remembrance observance takes place at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope Sunday, Nov. 21, at 6 p.m.

Organizers asked people to participate in the memorial by bringing a flower. Speakers will include Cece Cox and Andy Moreno, with performances by Voice of Pride 2010 winner Mel Arizpe, Women’s Chorus of Dallas ensemble MosaicSong and the Youth First Texas choir PUMP!

In Fort Worth, TDoR remembrance will be held during morning worship at Agape Metropolitan Community Church on Sunday, Nov. 21.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens