“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” — Psalm 31:24
Reflection: I am reading article after article on Facebook about what amounts to a Transgender State of Emergency or Crisis, as Laverne Cox would call it. 20 homicides have been reported against transgender women and gender non-conforming persons. Of those 20 victims, the vast majority of them are women of color. As I am reading the details of each case, I note that only some of them involve charges being filed or suspects being found. There may come justice for some of the victims’ families but for others, it is a painful waiting game.
It is hard to find comfort or to offer comfort and encouragement in situations where there is so much loss and tragedy. It is even more difficult to grasp reality when reality is like this– murder after murder in such short spaces of time. The attitudes and motivations driving these homicides demand attention and awareness. It is not just hatred– it is transphobia with huge dollops of racism and sexism added for good measure.
The segments of society targeting the transgender community would prefer these women to be men– and not just men, but ideally masculine, straight heterosexual men. They demand conformity to their norms and their ideals and if they can’t get their way? They kill. They treat transgender women as disposables– trash, refuse, “mistakes”, abominations, undesirables, unnatural, flawed creatures. And you add racism to the formula it only gets worse.
The African American community expects their men to be masculine, heterosexual, powerful, successful, strong men of unquestionable morals and values and spirituality. They can’t accept gender variance or sensitivity in their men. They cannot accept homosexuality. They cannot except anything that may undermine the image of a “strong black man”.
The white community that may also target transgender women and transgender women of color sees transgender women of color as freaks– less than normal, less than human. They don’t see an equal or person they can respect or treat as a fellow human being.
Society-at-large has often had to contend with very negative and inaccurate and damaging portrayals of transgender persons in the media. Jerry Springer and similar shows have done the transgender community no favors– exploiting transgender people as though they were a novelty act in a media circus. The drag community has inadvertently and perhaps unintentionally confused the barriers between entertainers who cross-dress and transgender persons who dress appropriately for their preferred gender. Drag queens and drag kings who see dressing and assuming roles of the opposite gender as entertainment, fetish, sexual tease show, etc… dominated the way the mainstream society viewed gender variance and gender non-conforming behavior. There was added sexualizing and objectification of the transgender community as the drag community only confused the issues.
Mainstream and especially conservative segments of society find it difficult to make the distinction between someone who cross-dresses for sexual gratification or as entertainment or fetish or frolic and those who are transgender who seek to socially or physically transition and live as normal a life as possible in their preferred gender.
These comments are not meant to be sweeping generalizations but rather observations that only scratch the surface of a reality we may only be just beginning to understand. But we do have to deal with this reality and soon– before another transgender woman is killed.