- November 18, 2014
On November 20, HRC will honor Transgender Day of Remembrance, an opportunity for communities to come together and remember transgender people, gender-variant individuals -- and those perceived to be transgender -- who have been murdered because of hate. In the lead-up, HRC is proud to present a blog series featuring a few of the many powerful voices of the trans community.
Post submitted by Drian Juarez, West Hollywood Transgender Advisory Board Member, Gender Justice LA Board President, and Transgender Economic Empowerment Project Program Manager/Los Angeles LGBT Center
I was 5 years old when I first experienced the coerciveness of the gender binary, and suddenly the world became a more dangerous and violent place. At the time, I had recently immigrated to the United States. I loved television because it was helping me acclimate to western culture. The first show that I fell in love with was Wonder Woman. She was a smart, independent, strong, beautiful, fabulous-outfit-wearing goddess and I wanted to be just like her.
“Mommy, I want to be Wonder Woman when I grow up,” I told my mother in Spanish. ("Mami: cuando crezca quiero ser la Mujer Maravilla.”)
First came the look of horror, followed by a gasp. Then my mother scolded me and told me that I was a little boy and boys can’t be Wonder Woman.
I felt devastated, believing that I could never be whom I wanted. For those of us who don’t neatly fit into a binary gender system, the world becomes foreign and hostile before we can even understand why. The bullying I experienced as a child was relentless and brutal. I later learned that many in our community have similar experiences growing up. I’m one of the lucky ones because I survived my childhood.
After high school and college, I got a job and moved out on my own. I was ready to transition and believed that I would live happily ever after. My dream was shattered when I learned that my insurance specifically excluded transitional related care. I didn’t know what to do; I couldn’t go on living a lie. I had to make the dangerous choice of turning to the street economy for financial support. When transgender people turn to survival sex work in order to transition, when they are kicked out of their homes for being trans*, and when they can’t get jobs, their lives are put in danger. Once again, I’m one of the lucky ones because I survived.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is a time when I experience a profound sense of gratitude. I survived and I am still here. There is still so much work to be done and every name that is read out loud during TDOR motivates me to do more, to fight harder, and to never give up until there are no more names to be read.
I will continue to fight until the day when we no longer have to mourn the death of our sisters and brothers but instead just celebrate our diversity and gender giftedness.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28, 1998, launched the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco vigil the following year.
The event provides a forum for transgender communities and allies to raise awareness of the threat of violence faced by gender variant people and the persistence of prejudice felt by the transgender community. Communities organize events and activities including town hall style "teach-ins," photography and poetry exhibits and candlelit vigils. These activities make anti-transgender violence visible to stakeholders like police, the media and elected officials. Find an event near you.