Written by: Janani Bala
On the eve of Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) and marking the day of uplift for #TransLivesMatter, we continue to have a great deal to mourn. Every 32 hours a trans woman is reported murdered. 2013 was a record year for violence against LGBTQ people, with a 29% increase over the year previous. 53% of LGBT homicide victims were trans women. Proximity to transphobic and homophobic violence is determined by race, class, gender, geography, etc—89% of LGBT homicide victims are people of color. We can’t separate our understanding of gender liberation from racial and economic justice. Some of the worst sites of anti-trans violence continue to be prisons, detention centers, and police encounters.
Trans people seeking asylum for gender-based violence, for example, are frequently detained and face continued rates of gender and sexual violence within detention centers. Rates of sexual assault in detention are 15 times higher for queer people than their heterosexual counterparts. Trans people, especially trans women, face additional violences in detention including in immigration detention: misgendering, lack of appropriate healthcare access, and anti-trans harassment and violence.
As immigrant and/or diasporic people, our take on trans work is not just about respecting pronouns. It’s about reclaiming models of trans-ness/gender self-determination that have been erased—through war, colonialism, genocide—from our ancestry and archives. We have to bring our communities with us. It’s about a trans politics that holds non-English speakers and ways of giving voice to gender justice in our original tongues. It’s about trans politics that centers undocumented people, incarcerated people, detained people, deported people. It’s about acknowledging that not all of us have access to spaces or capital to express our genders and bodies, about valuing both visibility and invisibility. It means that when Filipin@ and queer/trans activists demand #JusticeForJennifer (Jennifer Laude), trans woman murdered by a US soldier in the Phillipines, it is a move towards both demilitarization and deescalation of gender-based violence. Violence against trans people escalates under militarism, under police, under prison culture—those systems actually necessitate gender policing and therefore anti-trans violence.
We can’t continue to view trans justice as only a matter of honoring our dead, however. How can we support trans activists who are doing the constant work of manifesting gender justice now? Our comrades need both our resources and energy. Here are some steps you can take immediately:
2. If you have the means available to you, consider giving to a fund for grassroots trans-led organizing.
A message from NQAPIA: Join NQAPIA, GABRIELA USA and API Equality-Northern California for #transwk in raising visibility of AAPI Trans communities. Share your stories of empowerment and honor those we’ve lost.
- If we are committed to trans life, we must be committed to ending military and police violence #Justice4Jennifer #TransLivesMatter #TDOR
- 89% of LGBT hate violence victims are POC. Anti-queer violence is racialized. #TransLivesMatter #TDOR
- Trans solidarity looks like RESOURCING our community, while also honoring our dead. #TransLivesMatter #TDOR
- Jennifer Laude’s life and death is about both trans and anti-colonial justice–the two are linked. #Justice4Jennifer #TDOR
- Jennifer Laude’s death is a product of both militarization and anti-trans violence. Demand justice: bit.ly/justice4jennifer #Justice4Jennifer