By: Jasper Griswold, Columnist
On Nov. 20, 1999, a group of people gathered together to mourn the loss of a loved one. This gathering was facilitated by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, to mourn the loss of Rita Hester. Rita was murdered. Why did someone feel the need to murder Rita? There was likely no reason, other than the fact that she was trans and someone had a problem with that. The murder remains unsolved to this day, like many other transgender murder cases that are not taken seriously. Now, the day to honor Rita has become a holiday for remembering transgender people that have been killed – Transgender Day of Remembrance.
According to Smith, “Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people – sometimes in the most brutal ways possible – it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”
This time of year always scares me, due to thinking about its reason for existing. This day reminds me that violence could very well happen to me, or one of my friends. Luckily for me, I am not in the highest risk group, which is trans women of color. But I still must worry about my friends, and the friends I haven’t met yet or may never meet. They all deserve to feel and be safe and protected.
It is my personal belief that if people were more educated on transgender identities, there would be less violence against the community. People fear and hate that which they don’t understand. I feel if people learned how gender identities work independently of sex, they wouldn’t have so much hatred towards trans people just for existing. It’s important for everyone to become educated, so if you are an ally reading this then you’re doing just what you should. If you see misinformation, it’s important to share the truth if it is safe for you to do so. It’s important to fight against a culture of transphobia. Another good thing to do around this time is to simply be extra kind to your trans friends, shoot them a compliment or invite them to hang out. This time is hard for many of us, even if we may not show it.
To this day, people act like transgender people are doing something wrong just by being themselves. Living while trans is not a crime and being transgender doesn’t make anyone a criminal. And they certainly don’t deserve to die for it. Wednesday, and every day, we honor the 22 or more transgender people killed in the U.S. so far this year.