Why I Didn’t Attend TDoR 2011

by Alyssa Caparas on December 1, 2011

I get asked this question a lot: “Will you be attending TDoR this year?” I get asked if I’m going to march, or if I want to attend a service or vigil.

My answer is, “absolutely not.”

As a transwoman, I’m all too familiar with the culture of fear. I transitioned by hook & by crook, borderline homeless or totally homeless, squatting, sometimes putting hormones over food & shelter. I’ve been stalked, attacked, beaten, fired for being trans, discriminated against at work, watched my friends get beaten nearly to death in front of me, and am a survivor of abuse & rape.

I hate what TDoR has come to represent: a queer ‘holiday’ for embracing the narrative of fear; fear of violence, fear of death, self-stigmatization. The co-opting of POC trans women of a very-particular-background’s experiences as those of the ENTIRE trans community, regardless of race, class, or whatever. It’s a day to remind us all why we need to be afraid all the time and I think it’s a bunch of bullshit.

The large majority of people on the lists of the dead are NOT middle class white transwomen or men. They’re lower class PoC & PoC sex workers. I find it incredibly dissrespectful when white, middle, & upper middle class transpeople claim the narratives of transwomen of color & sex workers experiencess as their own. I’m sick of seeing Transbros at TDoR co-opting the narrative of transwomen’s experiences, internalizing them, and feeding those narratives back to everyone, then high-fiving each over how radical & edgey they are. I’m sick of being a Transwoman at TDoR and feeling marginalized by all the gender hipsters who’re there to bump up their scene cred.

Seriously, fuck THAT.

It’s not even an issue of solidarity for me. It’s about not buying into the culture of fear which encapsulates our ‘community’. I choose to say no.

No more. No fucking way.

I can’t say that you shouldn’t be afraid, and that your fear is invalid. As transpeople, we ALL face lot of effed up crap, and bad things DO happen to people.

But honestly, take a good look at your life and check yourself: are you white? Are you a man or a woman? If your orientation is queer, how visibly queer are you? how does that affect you where you live? Are you involved in sex work? Do you have passing privilege????? Take a good, long, serious look at all this and then ask yourself:

“How many of these issues immediately affect me? how justified am I in letting this fear rule my life and my community? Are these issues which affect me NOW?”

for a lot of people, that answers will be: none/no/no

So, no, I won’t be attending any TDoR’s, and I won’t be buying into this culture of fear. I’m not going to claim someone elses narrative as my own. I would rather celebrate life, and the lives of my wonderful friends, the love of my glorious partner. I’d rather put effort into working towards bettering myself and my community so that maybe one day we can be free of this fearful narrative once and for all.

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Wenda December 2, 2011 at 11:07 pm

You took the words right out of my mouth, Alyssa! Don’t let them pressure you, and never feel like you have to live in fear.

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Z December 2, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Thank you for this really insightful commentary. As a young, white, employed, passing (as male and often as straight) queer trans guy, my narrative is far from that which you outline. I’ve always felt that TDOR’s focus on those on the margins was an improvement from the gay disney of pride. I suppose though, that my previous statement feeds into your central argument: TDOR becomes a “consciousness raising” event for those seeking to ease their lefty-hipster-radical-ness and not about those who experience the violence and discrimination.

Is it possible to recognize the violence that many experience because of being trans, but not perpetuate a culture of fear?

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julian December 3, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I’ve never participated in any sort of TDoR event, mostly because I don’t live even slightly near a city, so I can’t say I’ve seen firsthand the stuff you are describing. But I think I understand your issues with it- white, passing males, and gender bender hipsters co-opting the narratives of transwomen of color and sex workers who have been the victims of violence and race/class struggles that most of the people “remembering” have never actually experienced and the subsequent fear-mongering that ensues being blanketed over simply “being trans,” when in fact most of the victims come from a very different trans experience than those remembering them.
But… also… I’m a white queer transguy and I do feel a genuine sadness for queer and trans people, in general, who have been the victims of violence, regardless of their race, gender, class, etc, even if I don’t come from the same background and haven’t necessarily experienced the same kinds of struggles in relation to being trans. Is there a way to express those feelings constructively in a way that shows love and support without co-opting a narrative or seeming disrespectful?

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Ginasf December 3, 2011 at 1:55 pm

1) The TDOR in San Francisco and NY (the two cities I’ve lived in) is attended by a large number of trans women of color and sex workers;

2) It’s not a holiday, it’s a memorial. This has been stated repeatedly by the person who founded the event and by the people who maintain the database and website for it (one of whom had an trans woman aunt who was murdered);

3) You only take fear from it if you want to. It was founded to commemorate (and publicize) the issue of anti-trans murders which were being overwhelmingly ignored by larger LGB orgs and by media. To me, that’s more about empowerment than fear, but you can react to it as you wish.

I strongly agree with you about focusing the memorial on the women who actually bear the brunt of the violence: trans women who are sex workers and poor trans women of color (while acknowledging that not all the deaths have to explicitly do with sex work… which they don’t). It’s about a very specific population within the trans community which still doesn’t get any respect and whose lives are viewed as disposable.

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Hannah Rossiter December 3, 2011 at 2:06 pm

The Auckland New Zealand, TDOR, included women of colour and sex workers, both as speakers and organizers of the event, both trans and cisgendered.

I agree that transwomen of colour are appropriated by white middle class transwomen and transmen. Yet it is a sad fact that the community relies on white middle class trans women to organise events and motivate the community.

That TDOR has become a defacto holiday for transpeople has more to with the failure of a community that is unwilling to celebrate themselves as vibrant and diverse community and their successes. But rather sees the need to focus on the down side of being trans.

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garconniere December 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm

really great and important points. this year i was wondering why there wasn’t a trans day of remembrance in my own city and started asking myself similar questions… who is tdor for, anyway? and what purpose does it serve?

it also reminds me of a recurring conversation i’ve had with a few trans friends has focused largely on how any time their stories are told in documentaries, films, articles, it’s always a sad depressing one that ends in tears and more often than not, murder or death. this lead us to wonder: can we find a way to celebrate trans people’s lives instead of their deaths, in a way that is meaningful and not tokenizing? i don’t think that answer is an easy one, but if people are going to keep touting tdor as the one day of the year to acknowledge/mourn trans folks, we need to find alternative ways.

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Dayne December 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I respect your opinion and your choice NOT to attend a TDOR event. I must however say that I disagree with you on a couple of points. First of all, you sound very judgmental of those who DO choose to be there as well as about those who have been murdered because of who they are. I am a white, professional, transman, in a “heterosexual” relationship. Everyday I experience certain privelege because I am white, educated, employed, male, and perceived to be straight (even though I identify as bisexual). I am also priveledged enough to “pass” and I recognize this. I feel that it is my responsibility to speak up and advocate for those who may be less fortuante than myself. This responsiblity that I speak of is not an obligation but a CHOICE that I make as a trans person who has privelege, a social worker, an activist, and an advocate for people less fortunate than myself. Additionally, nobody regardless of their race, class, gender identity, profession, etc. deserves to be brutally murdered. The reason that I choose to attend these events year after year is not to feed into the fear, but to honor and to pay my respect for those who have been killed. I also use this as an opportunity to educate people about trans people so that others do not have to live in fear. The violence that happens is certainly not the experience of the majority of people, but we cannot just turn our heads and pretend that it doesn’t happen. As the late great Martin Luther King Jr. so adequately put it, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. This is why I and many others attend. Please also respect our choice and don’t be so quick to judge.

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Kelly December 3, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I don’t think that this article is suggesting in any way that we ignore violence perpetrated against many of us. My experiences with TDoR have been that these events are very much about ignoring the intersecting oppressions that the victims faced, and erasing their lives to fit a “trans martyrdom” role. By ignoring many aspects of the victim’s experiences a constructed common narrative of pure trans-hate motivated violence is created that is used to justify a very white, upper-middle class legislative rights trans political agenda that often shames and excludes sex workers and people of color and even sometimes trans women. TDoR is now essentially that mainstream activist community saying, “look I care about these people and set aside time to remember them!” while actively ignoring serious motivating factors in their lives, oppression, and murders and writing those same people out of their political agenda. Not OK.

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AlyssaMcPants December 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I grew up on the Antijen list. if you don’t know what that is, I’m sure someone else can tell you. But that said, I transitioned before there was a TDOR (it started in 1999), and I remember when Gwen Smith, who I know of via Aunt Jenny(philadelphia shout out!), created the ‘remembering our dead’ website.

So over like 12 years or so I’ve seen TDOR and people’s attitudes toward what it represents change and grow, and that’s where my perspective on it is rooted.

I’m not saying that ALL people going to TDOR are all gender-scenester assholes, or that everyone going to these events is there to bump their activist/organizer scene cred, or to buy into the fear narrative. I never said “Hey Dayne, you’re a jerk for doing THIS THING”.

However I do feel quite strongly that TDOR has taken a turn from empowerment/memorial service to instead adopt a bullshit umbrella trans-martyr/fear narrative for all-transpeople that says: ‘these people deserve to be celebrated because they died for being trans and IT CAN HAPPEN TO EVERY ONE OF YOU IF YOU’RE NOT CAREFUL SO WATCH OUT *scary finger waggling*”.

Like if you look at the TDOR website, it states specifically “Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.”

This is, you know, kinda bullshit, and is simply applying a blanket statement that everyone who died died because they were trans. Some of them may have been killed because of racial bias, drug deals, wrong place wrong time, for simply being a sex worker, or for any number of other possible reasons. To say “EVERYONE DIED BECAUSE THEY WERE TRANS” is buying into this fear narrative, ignoring plenty of other potential factors, and then feeding this back to people who can then internalize other people’s struggle as their own.

It’s cool if NYC/Sanfran TDOR are so great, but I live in neither of those places, nor have had access to those communities. I’ve lived in Philly, KY, GA, FL, CT, and various places ranging from the east coast and mid-east/western US, and in the past 12 years or so I’ve never been privy to a TDOR that wasn’t some level of this glad-handing bullshit or co-opting of experience/fear narrative, and it makes me REALLY ANGRY to see it still so pervasive (if not worse).

But you know, I guess you’re right, you’ve PRETTY CLEARLY gotten the point, that I totally wrote this article on the basis that I’m a super judgmental person and that I hate everyone who is white, educated, middle class, and male, and that I believe that everything is awful all the time. forever.

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Kelsey December 3, 2011 at 7:30 pm

But if someone died because they were in a shitty situation because of trans-related discrimination, doesn’t it still kind of make sense?

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AlyssaMcPants December 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm

does what make sense? I never said people haven’t died because of discrimination or that remembering people who died is bad. reading sure am hard.

I think we should remember people who died, but the whole person, and not eroticize their trans-ness, and not just assume the default that everyone who is trans was murdered because they were trans.

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Kelsey December 3, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Please don’t make fun of me, it was a sincere question. If someone dies because of X situation, but they were in X situation due to being Y, isn’t it important to connect the dots and say they died in part because of Y?

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Gauge December 3, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Great article. Keep being awesome Alyssa! Also, hi! Haven’t seen you in awhile. Glad you’re still kicking. ;)

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AlyssaMcPants December 3, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Oh gauge, I miss you! you should hit me up on teh FB. I think I’m on Lilith’s f-list or somesuch. You still in philly?

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Jill Davidson December 3, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I really like this post. I’ve been to TDOR events over the last three years, and each time nearly the entire audience has been trans people. White trans people. I have complicated thoughts about TDOR. While not every trans person was murdered because they were trans, some were murdered for that reason, at least according to their convicted killers. I’ve wondered how many of the sex workers were more likely to be murdered because they were trans, or whether they were just as likely to be murdered as cis-women sex workers. I tend to use TDOR to think about why so many trans people of color become sex workers. It’s f-ed up that 55% of African-American trans people have had to work in the sex trade at one time or another. If any good comes from TDOR, maybe politicians and police would investigate some of these crimes more thoroughly. But I’m not holding my breath. I don’t like the idea that these people might be forgotten, but I also want to celebrate life.

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Kelsey December 3, 2011 at 7:28 pm

What’s a gender hipster?

No, seriously! Because I can’t think of anything that would fit that definition that isn’t just a way of brushing off No-Ho people, especially genderqueer no-hos. And how would you know that about someone from looking at them?

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Kelly December 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm

I use this term a lot. It has nothing to do with hormones, transition, or gender ID/expression. It has everything to do with attitude.

Regardless of your gender, if you can’t get over yourself and think you’re hot shit and the most radical person ever just because of your gender, you’re a gender hipster. If you exude the attitude that just being trans makes you cool and radical, you’re a gender hipster. It’s an attitude that is really obnoxious, self-righteous, and by default leaves the person with it closed to hearing others’ perspectives.

And because TDoR’s are community events and I know a lot people in my trans community, I can say that at least at the TDoR around me, every time I have gone most of the trans folks there were gender hipsters, and most of the other trans folks I know stayed home.

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Kelsey December 3, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Oh, ok, that makes more sense. I’ve heard similar kinds of terminology used to brush off certain ID’d groups before, is all. Thanks for the clarification.

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AlyssaMcPants December 3, 2011 at 8:22 pm

this 100%, kelly

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Darya December 3, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Thank you for saying what needed to be said. I also think we waste a shitload of time complaining any time someone says “tranny” in public; I’d rather we get blowback for stuff WE’VE said.
Bravo.

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Snarkysmachine December 4, 2011 at 2:04 am

This was brilliant. I lived in South Burl for nearly 7 years and worked for certain orgs and OMG so much yes to what you’re saying. It’s so much worse in VT because it’s the whitest place on earth and those white queers sure love being in denial about their race and class privilege. I’m cisgendered, but black and basically had nothing to do with the queer community in Burlington. I can’t imagine how awful the community must be for trans woman of color.

Fortunately, I escaped to a city with far greater racial diversity because VT was starting to scare the shit out of me.

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heather December 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm

To me, saying that you shouldn’t participate in TDoR if you come from privilege is like saying you should only demonstrate against homophobia if you’ve personally faced anti-gay discrimination and you should only attend anti-racism demos if you’re a person of colour. We would not have achieved queer rights in Canada were it not for all the straight, privileged people who came on board with us. Trans people won’t end the violence against those on the margins if those in the mainstream don’t take up the cause as well and come help. Not everyone agrees with every strategy. If you find the narrative of TDoR distasteful, that’s understandable. But I urge you to reconsider your position that people should only demonstrate for causes that speak to their personal experience.

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AlyssaMcPants December 4, 2011 at 5:46 pm

I dunno where you got “you should never demonstate XYZ” from, cause I never said that at all, but TDoR is NOT a demonstration or a fight for rights. Thinking of it this way only contributes to all the problems I see in it. It’s a memorial service, not a protest, and not a social event to be ‘seen’ at to bump up your scene cred.

And yeah, people with privilege NEED to support the most marginalized of us or we won’t make any progress. No shit.

But I’m not talking about people providing support, I’m talking about people exoticizing those who are oppressed and reducing them to one little component pportion of a whole ton of different identities and experiences. When people with privilege co-opt the narratives of people without (like white college dudes running around ranting about how they are going to get murdered at every turn and beat up in every bathroom because they’re trans at a TDoR event), that sets us backwards as a community, completely erases everyone who actually lives that EVERY DAY, is a disservice to everyone who is killed because of transphobic bullshit. Not to mention its really fucked up.

In other words, you made a huge logical leap that totally missed the point. Grats on your TL/DR, I guess?

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Kelsey December 7, 2011 at 12:12 am

I agree with your core point, but some white trans dudes are seriously worried about violence and sexual assault because it has already happened to them.

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BlaydenWaydonLeydon December 7, 2011 at 12:54 am

Well, that’s what a trans day of action can be for: to rally, to fight back, to resist, and to speak out as survivors. That what trans self-defence courses could be for. That’s not what a day of remembrance is intended to serve.

Last I’m aware, no cafab trans person has ever been murdered for using the washroom or for being found in public space and presumed automatically to be selling sex (which with it carries generations of precedent against femininity being observed without chaperone in public spacing after dark), or blamed for “deceiving” [sic] a partner.

Cafab trans people absolutely ought to help organize a day of remembrance if they want to, but they really should not be dominating it with cafab-oriented content (slam poetry is always a hit on that list). To do that utterly blows the entire premise of why the assembly of remembrance is happening at all.

Imagine if a violence against women vigil was organized by and hosted by men, with women getting, like, five minutes of mic time out of a two-hour program. That would be utterly messed up.

I’m hesitant to draw a link with military and wars and the like, but one doesn’t attend Remembrance Day ceremonies to observe the memory of civilians; one attends to remember those who served. Civilians may help organize a particular ceremony or be invited to speak on someone they knew who served (i.e., a parent), but the day of focus is intended those who wore a uniform.

One could link the metaphor that for camab trans people, this really is like a war: camab trans people are disproportionately under fire from all directions in ways spared from a disproportionate share of cafab trans people.

When we disregard why the trans day of remembrance was created and fill it with a bunch of cafab entertainment with nary a camab trans person to be seen as central to the planning, production, and presentation of a ceremony, we have blown the point. To refuse to admit that there have been cafab folks who have been complicit in blowing this point is sort of insulting to the memory of those victims; to refuse to believe that there has been this blowing of the point at all is, quite frankly insulting to *all* camab trans people, given the layer of risk they face which cafab people largely get to escape: violence against articulations of femininity and, by extension, violence against women.

And until this point sinks in with Aydyn or the gender hipsters, I’m not going to be Aydyn’s friend or want to share organic brewskis with the gender hipsters (and hey, I like organic brewskis). Then again, I’m not exactly invited to those after-parties, so I guess this is purely academic to put out there.

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Kelsey December 7, 2011 at 1:16 am

Hmm, alright, when you frame it that way I see why it doesn’t make sense in the -context- of TDoR, or specifically in terms of The Mythology of The Scary Bathroom.

Also, I try, and try… and I just can’t get into slam poetry. The conventions of dramatic breathing make me wince. It’s like the 70s guitar solo of poems.

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Kelsey December 7, 2011 at 1:24 am

Thank you for your patient answers, by the way. TDoR is an important thing to a lot of people in my circles in Boston, but neither my GF nor myself attended this year due to busy schedules, and a lot of the criticism is very new information for me. I’m sorry if my questions seem foolish or ignorant… I am quite simply lacking a lot of information (ignorant).

I personally agree that issues for CAMAB folks are different and often more risky. My experiences as a butch-ish/genderqueer CAFAB person are comparible but distinct from my GF’s experiences as a CAMAB person.

I work for an organization that specifically aims to improve the lives of LGBTQ youth… And this is an open question to trans women and girls: What is something or someone you wished had been available as a resource when you were a teenager/early 20s? Other than “be yourself” of course. What is a resource that would have helped, instead of what a lot of people find to be a culture of fear?

Sometimes my GF and I half-joke about a coffee table book of “101 amazing women of transgender experience” but I’m sure there’s more than that. :)

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BlaydenWaydonLeydon December 7, 2011 at 3:54 am

And this is an open question to trans women and girls: What is something or someone you wished had been available as a resource when you were a teenager/early 20s? Other than “be yourself” of course. What is a resource that would have helped, instead of what a lot of people find to be a culture of fear?

Huh. Well, aside from the internet, which wasn’t there twenty years ago in a meaningful way (given that I came out as trans twenty years ago, I can sort of attest to this vacuum): 1) informed consent clinics and 2) side-by-side respect, friendship, and shared political mobilization between cafab and camab trans youth. Under the hierarchical group organizing of the elder camab trans people prevalent back then, such open-joint collaboration of people with experiences analogous to my own was actively discouraged. I had friends my age who were trans, both camab and, more importantly, cafab. We were in this together, but we were just a handful. The schism between larger cafab and camab groups started at the end of the ’90s decade, and that’s when I saw all the guys sort of self-segregate into a new wave of political mobilization, some of it informed from experiences in the cis lesbian community.

I wish we’d stayed together, because we needed each other. Instead, as a camab trans person, I felt like the escalating cafab exclusion of camab trans people wholesale was intended as a kind of punishment — that is, the camab people who transitioned before their adulthoods got underway were having to atone for sins of the father mother elder camab trans people who didn’t respect us, either. What wasn’t getting conveyed to our cafab counterparts was that the very elders who trivialized and even excluded cafab trans people had been doing the same to a lot of camab folks (and objectifying camab trans people who lacked the elders’ own [internalized] misogynist socialization and pent-up anger). I feel like that two-way schism — camab and cafab youth versus elder camab folks — giving way to a new, cafab versus all camab people, set us all back by at least a dozen years towards empowerment, knowledge sharing, and political grip.

tl;dr: 1) informed consent medicine and 2) can’t we all just get along?

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Kelsey December 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Hmm, thanks. What about resources for trans girls who are straight up lacking whatever they need to come out? I know when I look into an audience of high schoolers, there’s some football player and some computer club CAMAB person who has an inkling of what’s in their heart but missing… what? Knowledge that it’s possible? Knowledge of amazing people who had come before? A lot of the time the concerns I hear right after fear of getting beat up is “What if nobody loves me?” Is there a lack of role models or a lack of access to them?

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BlaydenWaydonLeydon December 7, 2011 at 3:55 am

Sorry about the confusion: by “twenty years ago”, I was in my late teens. A lot of this help could have come in handy in my early teens, though.

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Golly Holightly December 5, 2011 at 8:30 am

When the Trans Day of Action was started in New York back in 2005, part of the impetus came out of wanting a “counterbalance” to the TDoR — something to show, and celebrate, and have some speaking out by and for all the living trans people out there. It’s meant as a counterbalance in many senses of the word. It’s in the spring / early summer, instead of in November like the TDoR, it’s about talking about and taking the fight to all the things that are keeping low-income trans people and trans people of color down, which is why the march usually passes by or ends at one of many institutions in NYC that has been actively oppressing or neglecting the needs of trans people.

When we started doing that here, I felt a lot of things about the Trans Day of Remembrance that I hear echoed in this discussion, and also really sad that it had become the most prominent event of the year (whether you call it a “holiday” or a “memorial”) in the national or even global trans calendar. I think that’s really a shame, because as much as we need memorials, remembrance of tragedy and those who’ve been lost, we need life and activity and thinking about the future and how to make change just as much or more.

So I would really like to exhort people all over the place — especially if you live in a place where you don’t feel like there’s a representative TDoR — to start a TDoA as well. Hell, you don’t have to call it that, you don’t have to make it a march on the Friday before Pride (which the NYC one is, trying to resurrect another drag/trans tradition of years past) but make it a celebration of life and struggle.

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Sunny December 5, 2011 at 10:44 am

YES!
Also a reality for many trans people is that TDOR and TDOA are sometimes the only chance they get to be around so many other trans people.

My people celebrates life, death, unions, and development of power.

I know that I need to celebrate the lives of my sisters at the same time that I mourn them. If I do not, who will? The media telling messed up versions of their lives. White gay and trans people who use us as martyrs and scapegoats and ignore our contributions.

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Sunny December 5, 2011 at 10:34 am

This article completely ignores the community dynamic between transwomen and transmen of Color, who continuously organize together.
And I am completely used to white people’s experiences and norms being the base for most every article on this site. But every time it makes me mad.
I acknowledge that the author is of mixed-heritage, I encourage her to explore and participate in the vast organizing that transwomen of Color are doing right now, and those connections with our brothers of Color.

This is probably not true in Vermont, but in New York City, some of our largest TDOR memorials and actions are organized by and for us.

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Eli December 5, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I don’t think showing up to an event equates to claiming “someone eleses narrative.” I think most (trans)people have a different story to tell. I experience internalized alienation pretty much EVERYWHERE I go, despite my passing privilege. I’m also confused as to how this event is a reminder of how we need to be fearful all the time. Personally, I felt pretty damn empowered but maybe that’s just because that’s what I was looking for. “I was here first” and “I went through more shit than you to create/defend my identity” is counter-productive. There are assholes everywhere, even in the “trans community” and I speak specifically of high-fiving transbros and other presumable co-opters whom like it or not, provide a link to the world of privilege and whom, like it or not, are a necessary component of achieving some semblance of equality for all transpeople. Visability works to impart change in various ways. Sometimes it takes a giant group of self-proclaimed queers and allies to remind folks of their cousin’s best friend, or their co-worker, or the neighbor that no one really talks to. Dismissing and shit-talking the TDoR because you don’t like how it looks, is not the answer.

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Liv December 5, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Queer ‘holiday,’ embracing the narrative of fear, gender hipsters high-fiving??

In London, UK (I’m white, Irish) I attended my first TDoR (even though I transitioned 2 years ago). Whilst I was shocked at the number of Transmen (I’m assuming they were anyway, who am I to judge) and the use of ‘rap’ and poetry to convey certain emotions, I in no way believed this to be anything other than a memorial. We are all from no specific gender, geographic location, colour or class (although like Thatcher didn’t believe in society in the sense that it was above all else such as family) and therefore cannot decide whom or what attends these memorials. Just like any family at a funeral there are those that don’t understand protocol and simple empathy, dress the wrong way (this is subjective) and act in an inappropriate manner but you can’t choose who is there, you can however choose to not be there which I think is a loss. Yes I too found it strange that people drank beer afterwards but then again ever been to an Irish funeral??

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Fariha December 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I dont know much about TDOR, but your article have given me an idea of what it is. I agree with u almost in all the points that you have made. Its not because you sound confident, its because you know what is right and wrong and what is better for you in the situation you are in. Fear does not but makes one weak. When a person has fear, he or she will not able to do a right thing or to say a right word. Its good that you have over come of ur fears and the experiences you had in life, have taught you a lot to make your life better. Your choice of not attending TDOR is appreciable because you have hope and guts to make your community better and you can only do this by over coming your fears and by moving on in a right direction. If you think that going in TDOR doesnt help you, then you should not go. After all, its your life and after learning from those experiences, you can choose what best for you and for your community.

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BlaydenWaydonLeydon December 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm

“Gender hipsters.” I love it. I can imagine the following:

“Out 29 February 2012: Aydyn and the Gender Hipsters and their new album, Fixie Fix Me Mixi, is an experimental shoegazer-steampunk-riotqueer, string-doumbek-8-bit octet that’s sure to make you question everything about music as you know it.”

Ahem. As everyone was.

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julian December 5, 2011 at 10:45 pm

so, a movement or thingee got started by real hardcore people. then it changed and there are different people doing stuff in different ways under the same name. the real hardcore people from back in the day are bitchy because shit is changing and call the new people stuff like aydyns and gender hipsters and narrative co-opters and stop attending events because some judith butler weened ass whippersnapper 20-somethings think they know what’s up. i say lighten up old queens. this shit happens in every movement.

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BlaydenWaydonLeydon December 5, 2011 at 11:36 pm

the real hardcore people from back in the day are bitchy because shit is changing and call the new people stuff like aydyns and gender hipsters and narrative co-opters and stop attending events because some judith butler weened ass whippersnapper 20-somethings think they know what’s up. i say lighten up old queens. this shit happens in every movement.

Wow. Really? Are you serious?

I’m not sure if you missed the memo, but a twenty-something trans dude, right here on PQ, got the Aydyn meme going.

As for TDoR, I have no part in it, never had any part in it, and would prefer not to wedge myself into something to which my own privileges have afforded me to mercifully avoid — for the most part. I don’t like appropriation, and where I’m consciously aware of it, I steer away from doing so.

The “movement” as you put it, was begun by camab trans people who felt that drawing notice to acute and specific violence against trans women needed an anchor of acknowledgement where there had been none. Initially, it was the Rita Hester murder on 28 November 1998 which got this going. The “movement”-founders said they’d hold it in her memory, but for whatever reason, they moved it to the 20th of every November. As an outside observer of this stuff at the time, it was less a matter of “hardcore” than a matter of impelled necessity and taking advantage of still-youngish Web 1.0 resources. Of course, the founders’ own life experiences and intersectional placements dramatically lowered their chances to end up on a list like that, yet they tended to use that list to appropriate those experiences anyway as like their own. For that, I sort of frowned. A lot.

Then, in recent years, as cafab trans folks have all but pushed out camab trans folks from trans-anything (and tend to only allow visibly tokenized camab trans people in as their gesture that, “Oh hai, see? We’re not excluding the wimmins, and our token signifies all wimmins!”), they appropriated camab trans people’s experiences wholesale and shoved them deep to the sidelines or out into the cold. Now, TDoR appears to be a cafab love-in for slam poetry, “getting real” and, most of all, getting laid by other cafab people. And camab people? Not getting laid or, for that matter, respected as equals.

As for “lighten up old queens” — what is this, 1989? Are you some cis gay dude who just jumped out of a time machine from the year, uh, 1989? I’ll withhold such reckless name-calling and generalizing, but show some humility instead of behaving like a total douchebarge.

And Judith Butler? What is this, 1994? Society doesn’t construct gender, and gender isn’t always performative; rather, gender-as-language developed the syntax for society we now know, and like any language, one must to communicate or articulate it to be intelligible to others. That can be done without having to “perform” it.

And why am I even bothering with you when you’re calling people all sorts of trollish, ageist, sexist, trans-misogynist noise in the first place? Get over yourself. And learn how to compose sentences without run-ons if you expect to be understood, for fuck’s sake.

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Christine December 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm

“I’m sick of seeing Transbros at TDoR co-opting the narrative of transwomen’s experiences, internalizing them, and feeding those narratives back to everyone, then high-fiving each over how radical & edgy they are…”

She forgot one the biggest motivators for the transbro — the chance to get laid after TDOR because of their edgy portrayal.

In reality the only thing transbros are in danger of is becoming amazingly successful in life because they appear to be smart, capable, and often handsome men.

I jest in that last sentence, but you know what I mean. Their answers to these questions:

“How many of these issues immediately affect me? how justified am I in letting this fear rule my life and my community? Are these issues which affect me NOW?”

Are None/No/No

Now after reading this article, I turn that lens on myself and find my answers are the same. I check my own privilege from here on….

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shuki December 7, 2011 at 9:16 am

truth is, in our community (i am from israel), TDoR is the only event organized by the trans community that trans women who are sex workers show up at all, as well as an older generation of trans women, who have suffered greatly and have lost friends.
i think we have had some crappy TDoR events where too many white gay politicians spoke, together with FTMs that are relatively privileged (myself included), about things that… were not really relevant to the day, things like the DSM, and how we all suffer (when we don’t all suffer) etc.
but i really do not want to give up on our TDoR, i think we can just try to make it better. i think this year was better because there was more discussion about the fact that the violence, like you said, is not simply due to tranphobia, but also racism, homelessness, and violence against women, and women in sex work. and there was much more space for transwomen rather then transmen.

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Marlene December 10, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I agree with you on a lot of this, but what you describe isn’t at all what it is like in my town.

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BlaydenWaydonLeydon December 10, 2011 at 6:03 pm

What was it like in your town?

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Marlene December 10, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Lots of trans women of color, few if any “gender hipsters”, a tone of communal mourning, a spirit of self and community care, an understanding of the “us” that people speak of as being something more than just trans despite the fact that being trans is probably the most broadly shared marginalization in the room, little visible coopting of other peoples’ experience.

What you might expect of a poor city with a large African American population that hasn’t been completely over run with self-congratulatory liberals (yet).

I live in Oakland California, and it doesn’t hurt that all of the hip kids go to the events in SF.

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Lolprivilege November 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I’ve lived in Oakland all of my life and what you describe isn’t anything relatively close to the truth. It seems like you want to be the victim.

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bonk December 20, 2011 at 8:25 am

i get what you mean, and i also don’t attend those events (nor do i attend pride events), but your article seems to be focussed on your own (refusal of) fear to the point that there is no sense of remembrance at all. you’ve somehow made it all about you…

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Gavin March 23, 2012 at 5:44 am

Thanks for this. I’ve always had a fishy feeling about TDoR, but hadn’t been able to quite articulate what it was. This is totally it.

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Lolprivilege November 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm

If you want to talk privilege, lets look at transwomen of color. A) They’re colored. If something happens to them people immediately shout ‘U RACIST’. B) They have male privilege AND female privilege.
Yes, you heard me. Transmen faced feminine sexism their whole lives, and therefore are allowed to whine about it, where as transwomen have been blessed with male privilege all of their lives, and probably still are if they don’t pass well. Either way, you have physical strength where as transmen don’t. Plus females are given more acceptance for being manly where as men are hated and vilified for being feminine (see Justin Beiber). Not to mention how EASY it is for transwomen to get surgery. Transmen have huge scars (cismen don’t even get breast reductions. ciswomen DO get implants quite commonly) plus the bottom surgery is basically non-existent where as you whine because you don’t get a fucking period. Give me a break, if you knew how awful they are (even for ciswomen) you wouldn’t want one. You have absolutely no reason to put down transmen like you do all the time. This is why I’ve grown to absolutely hate the trans community. Misandry & misogyny against transmen to the max.

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esqg November 20, 2013 at 4:04 am

my question is if you are not a working-class or poor trans woman and/or a trans woman of color, are there any who you love, who you are afraid for. It’s a different kind of fear than fear of bodily harm but it’s huge.

And this is a really good post, I agree so much with points about erasing relative privilege and stealing people’s narratives. But TDoR has made me so full of fear and anxiety right now, and it’s not for me, it’s knowing how the system treats people I care about and knowing how much of it is concentrated generations of power that is so hard to fight.

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