International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia- a day to explore and commit ourselves to fight the many ways that these forms of oppression manifest across the world. I find myself thinking today especially of Brandy Martell and Cece McDonald.
Brandy was an African-American transgender woman and a peer advocate at the Tri-city Health Center who was recently murdered in downtown Oakland. The murderer started to interact with Brandy and her friends flirtatiously, but when he learned she was transgender, he became violent- fatally shooting her both in her genitals and her chest. Some witnesses felt like police who were approached for help didn't seem to care much that another black life had been lost. The media barely covered the incident until a social media campaign pressured a few outlets to cover Brandy's life and loss. Yet this and every hate crime against transgender women needs to be talked about until we live in a society where people are free and safe to express their identities.
CeCe Mcdonald Is another Black transgender woman currently in prison in Minnesota. She too was the victim of a transphobic attack, however, in her case she fought back. And one of the attackers died. CeCe was falsely charged with murder, though none of the attackers were detained nor charged.
She recently accepted a plea bargain of manslaughter for the crime although she was acting in her own self-defense. This is just another case of "blaming the victim" of hate. There is a growing movement to demand justice for CeCe and many ways that folks can show their support- even just writing a letter, letting CeCe know that you are on her side makes a big difference.
My thoughts are with both of these women- one who I pray will rest in peace, and the other I hope will continue to raise her head high even in the face of racism, transphobia, and hate.
On this International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, may all of us commit ourselves to working for the safety and survival of LGBTQ folks in our own communities. May each of us see that policing and judging others' gender identities and sexualities hurts not just gender queer and transgender folks, but all of us who are forced to fit into narrow boxes of identity. And may every queer person know that they are beautiful just the way they are.