Yesterday, 20 November, was International Transgender Day of Remembrance. A day recognised the world over as a time to pay tribute to those murdered for identifying as transgender and pay special attention to the issues still facing this highly oppressed community.
I also identify as transgender. Me, the founder of my country’s first and only LGBT organisation. Yet, on a day of such significance, I was silent.
I have been speaking out on issues surrounding our LGBT people for years now. Often, others will cheer me on from a safe distance, or commend my bravery in private. They will express their support for same-sex marriage and equality for all. They reassure me that they accept me and respect me as I am, in all of my womanhood.
But it is depressing how rare it is for someone to approach me and say, “I understand.”
I cannot express how difficult it is to be in a position where you have to make the case for your very existence. To somehow find a way of convincing others, even those with the best of intentions, that your life is one that desperately needs fighting for, when no one seems to understand what you’ve gone through and continue to struggle with.
When you have to remind people, endlessly, of which pronouns to use. When you have to dodge every disapproving gaze. When you have to keep your head down picking your child up from school to avoid embarrassing them in front of their classmates. When, every day, you have to be cautious of any strange person you encounter, for fear of being assaulted if your make-up isn’t quite right or if your shoulders are too broad or if your voice sounds “funny.”
It’s hard. And it’s especially hard when it feels like you’re the only one.
Of course, I’m not the only one. Many trans residents of and visitors to our islands have come to me in hopes of receiving support. Always scared. Sometimes, scared for their lives. And with so few resources available to us, I understand why. Because I’m scared too.
Forgive me for not being more vocal. But truth be told, I’m tired of shouting into the wind. Instead, I’ve been busy laying the groundwork to empower those who have already been forgotten, even while they’re still alive.
Personally, I honoured my fallen fellow trans activists the only way I know how: by educating myself in order to better educate others, so that maybe, someday, someone else will understand.
And when you understand, maybe, someday, you’ll remember me too.