Read Jan. 16th, 2016 at Rosie Brown Lily Black in STL, MO
To whom it may concern,
The lives of twenty one trans women, most of these deaths being trans women of color, have been taken due to anti-trans violence. Like Keshia Jenkins, a trans woman of color who was getting out of the car and not only was she attacked and brutally beat, but was also shot by the hands of six men. Or Zella Ziona, a 20 year old trans woman who was shot in the head by her “friend” after he felt embarrassed of their friendship going public. I as a trans woman have an understanding that there are no places for us to feel safe, validated, and heard. Our voices continue to be silenced because society tells us we don’t belong here. Due to us going against the gender binary system and living authentically as ourselves, society has made it their job to erase us. Causing us to have a hard time accessing appropriate health care, getting jobs, and protections against violence. In schools were gawked and laughed at, told we can’t dress in ways that affirm our identities, aren’t allowed to use the bathroom of our choosing and are othered when asking for solutions to these problems. School in my experience never was a comfortable place for me to learn. I reminiscent about experiences like, sitting at the lunch table talking with my friends and feeling a fry smack my cheek then a grape followed. I remember reporting this and being told nothing could be done. I remember the humiliation I felt after a group of girls followed me in the hall yelling “That’s a man!” repeatedly while I walked down the hall. And having to choose my safety over my education because it was the only solution I had to rid me of the pain school caused. On the streets were called men, publicly humiliated, and are seen as freaks while people point and take pictures. In the media were scandals, hot topics, and are seen as the butt of the joke. Remembering the infamous shows Maury and Jerry Springer, displaying us as men trying to trick people into thinking were women. We’re taught not only that we don’t deserve love but not to love ourselves. People constantly throw in our faces what a woman is, causing us to internalize that and posing a reminder that “we aren’t women.” We can’t build together as a community because of the idea of realness, meaning a trans woman has the privilege to pass through society and be read as cis. This causes jealousy among girls who may not “pass” and girls who do, don’t associate with girls who don’t carry this privilege because they think people will notice that there trans too. We’re taught that it’s wrong to be trans, that it’s something that needs to be fixed, and that we should be ashamed of this identity. This causes many trans women to aspire to pass and become stealth so they can silence themselves about being trans; thinking their silence will protect them and erase the oppression as trans women. The life expectancy of a trans woman of color is 35 and a girl is killed every 32 hours. We need people to rise up and help fight for our protections economically, federally, and physically. We need trans women to open up about their identities and not to live in fear of telling and living in their truth. Our stories and trans ness are all we have to say “I’m here, and am not going anywhere.” They hold an unseen power that can push back against the system allowing us to connect with people, especially other trans women. We need people to listen to our stories as well as our needs and wants. I believe listening goes beyond hearing, listening means you as an ally build an understand of what were feeling. We need people to take action, take to the streets, hold sit ins, and cause uproar like the #blacklivesmatter movement; which has turned a cold shoulder to the killings of trans women. In which are often committed by the same cis black men the movement has solely been fighting for. I would personally ask that people challenge their own internalized transmisogyny as well as their ignorance. Like Erykah Badu said “education is infinite” and I believe ignorance is no one’s friend. We trans women only want to live authentically as ourselves without judgement, ridicule, or violent attacks. I want to rip off the tag on our identities labeled second class citizens and This letter includes how you can help to do so.
An unsilenced trans woman