In honoring the memory of the lives lost, we must realize a present in which the trans folks who are living can survive and thrive.
By: Equity & Learning at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York
Transgender Day of Remembrance, observed internationally on November 20th, is a dedicated time to bring awareness to the disproportionate rates of violence inflicted on the transgender community — especially Black trans women — and to honor the memory of the lives lost in those fatal acts of anti-transgender violence.
If our society acknowledges the reality of this crisis at all, it is often framed within an interpersonal context: isolated, transphobic hate crimes that escalate to murder, many times with impunity — in large part due to the harmful “Panic” defense. In truth, we know that the brutality of individuals is reinforced by the pervasion of cissexism operating at institutional and systemic levels.
A timely and tangible example: the recent U.S. midterm elections. The hateful platforms on which numerous politicians run, the bills they introduce, and the policies they enact once they are in (abuse of) power all add up to nothing short of state-sanctioned violence against trans people. Just this past year alone, over 150 bills have been proposed that specifically target the trans community.
From arbitrarily strict Voter ID laws to bans on gender-affirming care, restricting name changes, banning youth from playing sports, and prohibiting the use of certain bathrooms, various lawmakers made it a priority in 2022 to marginalize and incite violence on trans folks. The hate campaigns were especially “successful” in states like Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida — where in his election night speech, reelected Governor DeSantis further solidified transgender rights as a contemporary frontier in the U.S. Culture Wars.
Put simply, the outright prejudice that is both the cause and effect of such policymaking results in an increased risk of death for trans folks. When employment and housing discrimination coalesce, basic human needs go unmet and that means trans folks die. When provider bias deters transgender patients from seeking routine and emergency health care, that means trans folks die. When these hostilities cumulate, the mental health of the trans community suffers and the correlative rate of suicidal ideation means trans folks die.
In honoring the memory of the lives lost, we must realize a present in which the trans folks who are living can survive and thrive. As a sexual and reproductive health care and rights organization, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York must engage trans patients, program participants, and community members with cultural humility to ensure that they receive the equitable health care, education, and advocacy they need and deserve.
As service providers, examples of that humility can be as concrete as using people’s correct names and pronouns, or it can be as abstract as challenging and deconstructing the gender binary that we perpetuate in our own minds. In the context of these elections — where abortion was on the ballot — humility also means understanding that abortion care and gender-affirming care (GAC) are inextricably related.
The relation is, in part, because we know abortion is not only a cis women’s issue. However, the interconnection also lies under the larger umbrella of bodily autonomy: attacks on both abortion and GAC rights derive from the same motivation to uphold archaic views and expectations of gender, meant to control the masses by stripping self-agency away. With this, power is consolidated within the imperialist white supremacist cis-heteronormative capitalist patriarchy.
This Trans Day of Remembrance and beyond, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York is committed to deepening our organization’s equity analysis at the intersection of race and gender identity, to shoring each other up with the skills necessary to provide equitable and humble services, and to supporting our colleagues who experience unjust disparity by urging systemic change.