Its a sad and funny fact of life that we can go about our affairs without the smallest clue about the lives of a whole section of humanity. We know this first hand, as this can be a source of frustration for gay people. Its frustrating when I think about the casual way in which people judge my life, without knowing a thing about its realities. So, it was a revelation for me and my husband, when people we knew in our lives, began to come out as transgendered. A whole new world opened and revealed a whole class of people who were suffering societies prejudice, just as we are, yet with more dimensions.
Today is a day to remember transgendered people who have been the victims of violence. It was begun by Gwendolyn Smith of San Francisco for the "Remembering Our Dead Web Project" to honor the life of Rita Hester, who was found stabbed to death in her apartment. Since then, the project has grown to included remembrance ceremonies in communities across the nation. Sadly, transgendered violence continues to rise ...and so the list of those to remember has grown longer....
Its with a heavier heart that, as I write this, I realise that there are so many more names that could be on this list that will never be reported. Some stories make the news like NaNaBoo, in Washington D.C. did ...but most do not.
One very well covered story that has yet to reach resolution, is the story of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, who's body was found decapitated and burned by the side of the road. According to 365 Gay News Mercado's accused killer, Juan Martinez Matos:
met Lopez while looking for women Thursday night in an area known for prostitution, according to prosecutor Jose Bermudez Santos. Bermudez said the suspect confessed to stabbing Lopez, who was dressed as a woman, after discovering he was a man.
"He has a deep-seated rage," Bermudez said in remarks reported by the newspaper El Nuevo Dia.
The Official response as reported on CNN's iReport:
The police agent that is handling this case said on a public televised statement that "people who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen". As If the boy murdered Jorge Steven Lopez was asking to get killed
That is the level of sympathy accorded his death...with no mention about the personal responsibility of Mercado's attacker or acknowledgements of Mercado's life.
And I'm sorry, but discovering that a sex partner is not the gender you expected is NOT an excuse for murder. Anger maybe, but murder or violence of any kind?... NEVER. It also needs to be said that Jorge volunteered at agencies that work for HIV prevention and advocate for gay rights.
The lives and deaths of transgendered people do not carry more weight then the deaths from the myriad of other tragedies that life contains...but that is not the point. The point is to talk about what many don't want to see. To not be invisible...to say to the world, not so much that we died...but that we lived and our lives count.
I write this essay not only for the trans people who I now know, Bananabread119, Carina, and Sama, but also for the same reasons that we make our Gay Family Values videos on youtube. If you go to any gay rights event and look around you will see lots of gay men and lesbians holding hands and waving flags...but you will also see transgendered people fighting along right beside us. Our struggles and Our lives are more alike than they are different. Which is the message that we try to get across. Its not a straight issue or a gay issue...or even a trans issue. It's a human issue...its just life, and no one should have to be afraid to live it.
For more information on the Transgender Day of Remembrance or to find a ceremony please visit www.transgenderdor.org