TDOR Opening Remarks

Delivered in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 18th, 2012, at 18:00 MST.

Good evening.

Thank you.  Thank you to each of you, to all of you, for taking of your time to stand here tonight, to join us all in the remembering of two hundred sixty five lives lost in the last twelve months.

Fourteen Times now, the Trans Community has come together on a night in November to remember the lives of those lost to unspeakable violence in the last twelve months.  Tonight, do not forget the work of those who have come before, who have stepped forward time and time again, to ensure that we do not fail to remember, do not fail to recall, do not fail to realize the impact of what it means to stand up and live your life as yourself, to take control and take steps and take off and move forward in the world with the knowledge of who you are and what you are.

Two hundred and sixty five people will be remembered tonight, and that is but a fraction of the total, a portion of the whole, a glimpse into the depths of our losses this past year. We cannot read the names of all of them, though.

We do not know the names of all of them. This year, there are over fifty names that we do not know. Fifty people, fifty human beings, fifty men, women, and children whom we cannot speak the names of. Fifty souls, fifty lives not lost, not abandoned, not given.

Fifty lives stolen. Fifty lives taken. Fifty lives destroyed.  Each loss from them cuts into our hearts, and makes our world smaller, makes our world less, makes the lives of those they were stolen from more difficult, and each of those fifty lives has greater costs as a result.

Now each of you is a part of that cost; these are fifty people that you cannot come to know, that you have been denied the chance to know, to love, to share.  This is your loss, now. This is part of your life now.

To many, they are now part of a vast an innumerable host that watches all of us.

(pause)

All of these people lost are trans people.  Transgender.  Transsexual.  Gender variant. Two Spirit. Muxe. Travesti. Winkte. Hijra.

Us.

This is the day and the night and the time when we remember those who are lost, and we remember them not to remind us of what is at risk, but to tell the world that this happens and this is not acceptable and this is not a good thing and this cannot continue.

This day is about these people, about them, the loss of so many, too many; but it is not merely for them.  It is for our Allies, for our Families, for those we love and for those who love us.

Because each of these lives represents what could happen to us. To you. Even here.

One hundred and twenty six of these people, from children only sixteen to adults in their primes, were murdered in Brazil this year.  Forty nine of these people were killed in Mexico. Fifteen of them were murdered here in the United States. Those are the worst three nations.  Venezuela at nine and the Honduras at 8 complete the top five worst.

You do not need to be reminded, brothers and sisters and siblings, that the vast majority of these murders are going to continue to be unsolved. That many of them are no different from that of one of our heroes, Marsha Johnson, who headed home one night and never made it there, and was found dead.

That too many of them are dead, and those who stole from them are still free, still untouched; just like those who killed Maurice Green, here. Here, where we live.

We say it anyway, because it should be said, perhaps most importantly when it doesn’t need to be.

They were shot. In the head, in the back, in the face, in the arms, in the chest. Never once. Always many times.  For some, their killer  did it openly in front of many witnesses, shooting them from a car and then getting out to not merely make sure, but to eradicate them, to erase them.

We stand here tonight so they are not erased, so they are not eradicated.

They were thrown away. Discarded. Left on the street to die alone for hours, even though people saw them.

We stand here tonight so they are not discarded, so they are not alone.

They were stabbed and run over and bludgeoned and hanged and stoned and strangled and beaten and burned and maimed; tortured and drowned and executed and decapitated and dismembered and gagged and mutilated.

Because they were trans.

They were murdered because they were trans, and people feel that they can murder us.  People think it is ok, it is acceptable; that we are less than, that we are men, but oh, not really; that we are women who can’t stand men, but oh, not really; that we are teases and liars and tricksters and Traps.

We stand here tonight so that people know it is not okay to do this.

It was not because they were dressed wrong.  It was not because they traded sex for money or smiled at someone who insulted them. It was not because they were mules for drugs cartels or activists making a difference. They were not killed for love, they were not murdered because they took away someone’s sexuality or made them feel less of a man or a woman. It was not because they were homeless. It was not because they were gay, even if they did win the title Miss Gay twice.

Sixteen years old. Seventeen years old.  Eighteen years old. Nineteen years old. Twenty years old.

Sixteen years old and shot thirteen times.

We do know some of the murderers. Some were brothers. Some were lovers. Some were security guards. Some were customers. Some were people who felt that they had some moral right to murder other people. Some were police officers. Some were a mob.

A mob.

Some of those who died were men. Trans men. Some of them died in their homes. Some were parents, some were heroes, some were immigrants, some were deeply religious. Some were black, some were brown, some were white, some were native.

All of them were people.  All of them died in cities and towns and villages where tonight or tomorrow or the next night people will gather and remember them.

Just like we are tonight.

Just like us.

This is not about me. This is not about you. It is about the people who are here and the people who are not here.  It is about the 15,000 trans people in the Phoenix Metro area and their friends, their family, their spouses, their children, their parents, their loves, their lives.

This is about Us. About all of us.  For above all else, these murders, these deaths, all of them, each and every one, seeks to send a message to us, seeks to tell us that we should not, that we are not allowed, that we cannot be, that we are wrong, that we are bad, that we are sinful and foul and loathed and not worthy of being thought of as human beings; that we should feel terror, that we should be afraid, that we should hide and not be seen, that we should be quiet and not be heard, that we should just go away.

This is about us saying that we will not hide.  This is about us saying that we will be heard. This is about us saying that we are worthy, that we are allowed, that we have grace and are loved and can love and can live and can be. That we deserve a good life with a happy ending.

For it is our task to be certain that these two hundred and sixty five people are heard, and are seen, and are known, since someone has taken that from them. Taken that from us.

We take it back.

We take it back.

We take it back.

And we start letting them be heard, and seen, and known.

Now.

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