This Friday, March 31st marks the 8th annual celebration of International Transgender Day of Visibility. Rachel Crandall, head of an organization called Transgender Michigan, called for the creation of Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) in 2009 as a response to the lack of holidays celebrating the lives of transgender people while they are living. Prior to TDOV, November’s Transgender Day of Remembrance was the only day specifically dedicated to trans people and communities. While Trans Day of Remembrance is a day of mourning for those killed by transphobic violence, Transgender Day of Visibility is a day to celebrate trans people’s lives, empowerment, and visibility. As Janet Mock, author and activist, remarks:
â€œIt’s a state of emergency for trans women and trans feminine folk of color. … The disproportionate levels of violence trans women of color face pains me, and so does the pervasive framing of trans womanhood being directly linked to images of victimhood and tragedy. It hurts that our names are often amplified only when we are dead, gone, inactive. …We can’t only celebrate trans women of color in memoriam. We must begin uplifting trans women of color, speaking their names and praises, in their lives.â€
Transgender people are increasingly visible in media, news, television, and movies. Trans led organizations are leading the fight against poverty, discrimination, and violence through organization’s like the Bay Area’s very own Transgender, Gender-Variant, and Intersex Justice Project (TGI Justice Project), currently headed by Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a black transgender woman and community elder, and Janetta Louise Johnson, an Afro-American trans woman. â€œTGI Justice Project is a group of transgender, gender variant and intersex peopleâ€”inside and outside of prisons, jails and detention centersâ€”creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom. â€œ
The Bay Area is also home to the Transgender Law Center where the mission is to change â€œlaw, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.â€
At the Trans Youth Leadership Summit, a youth fellow named Caelan Damocles came up with a theme for this year’s TDOV that is in use by an organization called Trans Student Educational Resources. The theme is #TransResistance. â€œIn the increasingly transphobic global political climate, we must use our newfound visibility to mobilize trans people against oppression. Speaking out, taking direct action, and educating others is critical to our safety and wellbeing.â€
This TDOV, CORA invites all community members, trans and cis alike to consider what we can do to make this world safer and more just for trans people from the exactly positions we are in. In our homes, families, workplaces, schools, and communities. A place to start is to listen to and read the words of trans people and learn more about the needs and strengths, vulnerabilities and resilience of our trans community members. Here are some places to start, and have a wonderful Transgender Day of Visibility!
CORA is dedicated to making sure that trans, gender nonconforming, and non-binary people have access to affirming and respectful services for survivors of partner abuse. CORA is proud to have been one of the first domestic violence organizations in the Bay Area to provide emergency shelter to people of all genders including trans men and women and gender non-conforming people as well as cis men and women. We provide LGBTQ-aware and affirming crisis counseling and mental health services, as well as coordinating with other LGBTQ-serving organizations and groups in the Bay Area. For more information, feel free to contact our LGBTQ Clinical Victim Advocate, Angelynn Hermes at AngelynnH@CORAsupport.org.
At CORA, we believe everyone has the right to live free of domestic violence. Everyone!
This week individuals and communities around the world commemorate Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday, November 20th. CORA takes this time to recognize the lives, strength, and importance of trans people in our community. We grieve those who have been killed. We push ourselves as a community organization to deepen our commitment to supporting trans and gender nonconforming people who are affected by relationship abuse.
There have been more known murders of trans people in the United States this year than in any previous year. At least 24 trans people were murdered in the United States in 2016 in crimes that may be related to transphobic hate violence. Transphobia is the irrational hatred of people who do not conform to the rigid gender norms in our society. Of the 24 people killed this year, over half were Black transwomen or transfeminine people. For the past three years, the New York Anti-Violence Project reports that at least 50% of the homicides of LGBTQ people were of transfeminine people or color.
Transgender Day of Remembrance originated from the â€œRemembering Our Dead Web Projectâ€ in 1998, created by transgender activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman who was killed that same year. The first vigil that would become Transgender Day of Remembrance was held in San Francisco in 1999. The day honors the lives of trans people who were killed in murders involving transphobic hate violence. While transphobia is a key piece of the stories of those who have been murdered, Black transfeminine people and trans people of color are disproportionately affected by this violence. Trans people can face many forms of oppression including racism in daily life. Trans people experience housing and job discrimination, lack of trans-affirming and competent health care and social services, state and interpersonal violence, and murder. Trans people who live at the intersections of racism and or poverty experience more violence and higher barriers to accessing services and justice.
Each year, some portion of the deaths reported involve dating violence, partner abuse, and stalking. Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum was a 32 year old transwoman of color who was murdered in March 2016 by an ex-boyfriend. He shot her in broad daylight in front of her supportive housing building in the Skid Row neighborhood of Los Angeles. Anita Nelson, her apartment manager told The Los Angeles Times â€œI am heartbroken. Our residents are traumatized, our staff is traumatized. Everybody loved her. She was very popular.â€ Another person killed in August was Rae’Lynn Thomas, a 28 year old Black transwoman who was shot and then beaten to death by her mother’s ex-boyfriend in Columbus, Ohio. While Rae’Lynn was accepted and loved by her family, her mother’s ex who still lived with the women referred to Rae’Lynn as â€œthe devil,â€ and her family is certain the crime was a hate crime.
CORA stands with all transgender and gender nonconforming members of our community. We are committed to do our part to end the widespread violence against transgender people. We strive to ensure that trans people facing relationship violence have a safe and supportive place to go for shelter, safety, and healing that values and affirms their identity. We are committed to deepening our understanding of the layers of violence and oppression trans people especially transfeminine people of color face. CORA’s shelter is open to people of all gender identities and expressions. Our hotline callers can be readily connected to LGBTQ service providers throughout the Bay Area. We are committed to nurturing partnerships with community organizations that are striving to improve the quality and competency of services available to trans people in San Mateo County.
We know there is much more work to be done. Please contact us if you are interested in collaborating to create communities where intimate partners treat one another with mutual respect, compassion and integrity.
CORA joins several other community organizations in San Mateo in supporting and attending San Mateo’s Transgender Day of Remembrance: The service on Thursday, November 17, 2016 from 4-6pm at Congregational Church of San Mateo, 225 Tilton Avenue, San Mateo. Join us to help create a more inclusive world for all. We will be building a community alter during this event. Please bring flowers, candles, poetry/spoken word to share.