Say their names: Remembering trans people who were killed
CONCORD, CA (Nov. 16, 2021) — While out in the world, I often look over my shoulder casually and, I hope, undetectably.
I am a trans man and my safety is constantly being audited by my subconscious concurrently running alongside my confidence of being a man. This awareness derives from knowing our community of transgender folx of color are year over year being killed in increasing numbers.
“… on the night of Oct. 30 or the morning of Oct. 31, 2021.” This is how the most recent Latinx, transgender woman, Rikkey Outumuro, was described regarding the date of her killing. I learned this just a few days since this most recent life was taken from our community. A week previous, I had reported in a talk that 38 lives had been taken. Rikkey was No. 44.
An epidemic is defined as “a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.” For the last 22 years, Nov. 20 has been the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). This day brings to light the epidemic of people we are losing due to the widespread occurrence of fear, violence and anti-transgender bigotry. (Visit www.glaad.org/tdor for more information.)
People we know
The number of transgender lives being taken annually has been increasing, from 21 in 2015 to 44 in 2020. This is also where we stood on Nov. 3, 2021. These are just the people we know of through families and communities that affirm each lost loved one’s true identity.
When gay men were dying en masse due to AIDs, many people would deny their family member was even gay. Social shame, stigma and deep marginalization dictates, oftentimes disappearing our truths. How many trans women have truly been killed this year?
Many transgender people, who are overwhelmingly also intersectionally of color, are targeted and feared. Within Rainbow’s own Houseless Transitional Youth Program in the summer of 2020, we had to move a young trans woman several times through emergency hoteling because she was being targeted – only to witness her brother shot and killed in the hotel parking lot when she was the one being sought.
Affirm all our communities, especially centering the ones of us who are the most feared, misunderstood and not known. Reach for education and the beautiful work of learning alongside intersecting compassion.
Read the names
Not only remember the transgender people of color, but read the names, say our names and share these 44 names of the transgender lives taken thus far in 2021: Tyianna Alexander, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, Jeffrey “JJ” Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond Kyree Sanders, Rayanna Pardo, Jaida Peterson, Dominique Lucious, Remy Fennell, Tiara Banks, Natalia Smut, Iris Santos, Tiffany Thomas, Keri Washington, Jahaira DeAlto, Whispering Wind Bear Spirit, Sophie Vasquez, Danika “Danny” Henson, Serenity Hollis, Oliver “Ollie” Taylor, Thomas Hardin, Poe Black, EJ Boykin, Aidelen Evans, Taya Ashton, Shai Vanderpump, Tierramarie Lewis, Miss CoCo, Pooh Johnson, Disaya Monaee, Briana Hamilton, Kiér Lapri Kartier, Mel Groves, Royal Poetical Starz, Zoella “Zoey” Rose Martinez, Jo Acker, Jessi Hart and Rikkey Outumuro.
Let’s continue educating ourselves and our communities. Watch Dave Chappelle’s latest stand-up comedy special, “The Closer.” Yes, I said to watch it. Then, have a thoughtful discussion with yourself, and others, about how fear, misinformation and transphobic behavior are able to exist veiled in humor – throwaway laughs that, by the way, deeply hurt and literally kill us. Then watch “Disclosure,” moderated by Laverne Cox.
Now you are poised to further the conversation and assess if you are truly up for the beautiful work of learning alongside intersecting compassion.
Transgender Awareness Week is Nov. 13-19, leading up to TDOR on Nov. 20. Be moved to save our lives through learning more. We need more allies. #BlackTransLivesMatter. For more information on transgender killings, click here.
Kiku Johnson is Rainbow Community Center’s executive director. As a man of color and trans experience, Kiku has invested his life engaging and elevating youth and adult voices of marginalized intersectional identities. Send questions and comments to email@example.com.