Post submitted by Tiommi Luckett, Co-Director of Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition (ArTEC)
With less than a week into 2016, the Arkansas transgender community has already suffered its first loss. Katherine Johnson, a 25-year-old transgender woman in Arkansas, ended her own life. As Co-Director of the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition (ArTEC) and a leader in the transgender community, I feel a personal responsibility to redouble my efforts in 2016 to ensure that no member of the transgender community is left behind or made to feel as though they are not a part of the whole.
According to a William Institute survey, 41 percent of transgender respondents reported attempting suicide at least once. While we remember our fallen every year on Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), we must be proactive everyday within our community to honor their memory and help those most in need.
In honor of TDOR last year, we worked in Arkansas to increase transgender visibility. We all marched together, holding our signs and declaring our right to live in an unjust world. While we worked to protect every transgender and gender non-confirming person in Arkansas, I know that there is much more to do. The march was an opportunity for the transgender community who attended to communicate and network with other members. We recognized ourselves as a community that night and we made our voices heard.
In making our voices heard, we should also charge ourselves to be the voice for the voiceless. I can’t effectively advocate for the needs of my community if I never take the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and learn the issues plaguing others. If we take the time to get to know each other despite our differences, we can all do our part to bridge the gap in the disparities we face.