By Peter Jenkins
Two weeks ago the Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance, known as HERO, was overturned by the citizens of Houston, Texas. The crux of this ordinance was that it made discrimination against people based on a number of factors unlawful. The opponents of the bill never said that they were in favor of discrimination, in public, but their entire campaign to defeat this non-discrimination ordinance was based on one thing, they didn’t want “men” in women’s restrooms.
Sounds simple enough. War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. For those who do not remember, these are the party slogans from the dystopian book 1984. However, we learned that all of these ideas are inherently wrong, as were the claims of the anti-HERO organizers. The people organizing against HERO were campaigning to stop transgender people from using the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. The anti-HERO crowd believes that trans women should be forced to use men’s restrooms and that trans men should be forced to use women’s restrooms. In their own efforts to stop men from being in women’s restrooms, that’s exactly what they brought about. Their own efforts ended up causing the exact opposite of what they claimed they were opposed to.
This effort was built on bigotry, fear and hate just as Big Brother’s efforts were in 1984. Unfortunately, transgender people from around the world experience these reactions every day, and tomorrow we will remember the trans people from around the world who were murdered simply for being alive and transgender.
This week is Transgender Awareness Week. Personally, I’m tired of trying to convince people that trans people exist. We are here and we need you to recognize it, not try and disprove it. I’m also tired of sitting in that same church every year around this time as we sit for an hour and a half listening to speakers rattle off trans people’s names, cause of death, date of death, and location of death. As each name is read someone lights another candle and each one puts a lump in my throat and makes me ask if I’ll be next even though I know the answer is that I probably won’t be. I’m white.
Almost every name that is read during the Transgender Day of Remembrance is the name of a woman of color. Violence against trans women of color has reached epidemic levels.
One in eight trans women of color are murdered and they deserve to be remembered.
The trans community has been working to stop this violence for years; in recent years the LGB community has joined us in this fight. Now we need you. I know it’s easier to sit at home and list all the things that you have on your plate that are keeping you from helping, but at least you have a plate. One in eight trans women of color are dead and don’t have anything on their plates anymore. White trans people and cisgender people need to wake up and start supporting trans women of color the way they want to be supported. There are multiple organizations in this state working to end trans violence and you can join any of them. BreakOUT in New Orleans, Louisiana Trans Advocates and Equality Louisiana are the three leading groups working on these issues so take a moment to find them on Facebook or find their websites and get to a meeting.
Thursday evening at 7 p.m. feel free to join our community at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Goodwood Drive as we commemorate those whose lives have been taken from us in the past year. All you need to bring is yourself and your compassion. If you can’t make it to the church, light a candle at home in remembrance. Most of all, just remember that trans people are people. We are your classmates, your neighbors, your family members. You may not know we are trans and your words and actions can have a larger impact than you may ever realize.