Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. A day each year when we pause to remember all those lost to violence. The sad truth is that this year there have been more lives lost than in any previous year that has been documented. The sobering reality is that most of those lost were trans women of color. The first trans women I really got to know were two African American women who were persons with AIDS in the late 1980s. Their lives had been very difficult and the threat of violence was always there. Sadly they both lost their lives due to opportunistic infections as a consequence of living in a time where medical science had not yet advanced far enough to halt the violence caused by a virus. In reality it was also the violence that forced them to leave home, forced them to turn to sex work in order to survive and substance abuse in order to escape a terrible reality. Jean and Melissa both shared their stories with me and I was proud to call them friends. Back then I was still in the dark about my own gender identity but I was aware it had a connection with those brave women.
So today I morn those killed but also those lost to disease, suicide and the overall violence brought on by a society that forced them to live on the margins. I’m now blessed by having many transgender women and trans femme non-binary trans people in my life. I also have a wonderful family of trans individuals and allies here in Santa Fe. My hope is that trans women forced to the margins will soon be blessed to find a family like this for themselves. In the meanwhile I will do my small part in raising awareness, advocating for laws protecting my community from discrimination, pushing back whenever I become aware of people engaged in the bathroom scare tactics of the right in this country and being part of my trans family in creating a welcoming environment for other trans people looking for a place to call home.