Statement of Support for Trans* Day of Resilience
“Every year, we memorialize the lives that were lost to violence. It is time to take advantage of the Trans Day of Resilience to celebrate and honor our communities who have survived the various forms of violence and who have overcome adversities to become who they are. It is time for the trans community to show one another what hope looks like. Positively Trans is here to lift up the leadership of trans leaders who are living with HIV as they personify courage, strength and resilience.” – Cecilia Chung, Senior Strategist of Transgender Law Center, founder of Positively Trans (T+), member of Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA)
This year alone, at least 22 transgender women have been murdered in the US. 19 were women of color. The true numbers are undoubtedly higher, since transgender people are frequently misgendered in police reports and by the media. The average life expectancy of a trans woman of color is only 35 years. Reflecting on these statistics is sobering — though some progress has been made in advancing lesbian and gay rights, the transgender community has been left far behind, from employment discrimination to discrimination in health care. Just a few short weeks ago, Houston voters voted down an equal rights bill, HERO, in an electoral campaign that was marked by vicious transphobia and vitriol.
In this hostile environment, being one’s authentic self is an act of courage, and practicing self-love is an act of revolution.
“Last month one of the greatest activists in South Florida attempted suicide, was in jail and now is homeless,” says Arianna Lint, founder of the TransLatin@ Florida Chapter, Advisory Board member of Positively Trans and PWN-USA member. “We are coping with trauma. We need support and real help.”
Activists also point to a lack of consistent attention to trans* issues. “Oftentimes we are not even acknowledged in life and we are discarded in death. We are loved and valued by some of our given and chosen families. We just want the opportunity to live in our authentic truth unapologetically without fear of judgment and persecution,” says Octavia Y. Lewis, MPA, a member of the PWN-USA Board of Directors and of the Advisory Board of Positively Trans. “We are more than the one day in which some take to remember those of us that have fallen. People forget to acknowledge those that are still living. We are HUMAN.”
On this year’s Trans* Day of Resilience–and every day–we honor our trans sisters in their struggle and commend them on their courage to live their truth, in the face of such overwhelming violence and antipathy from a society that still has so far to go. We demand policies that honor, recognize, and support trans* people equitably. We call for economic justice–for an end to the discrimination that prevents so many from using their skills, talents and passions to earn a stable income and support themselves and their families. We call for trans* and gender non-conforming individuals to be counted accurately in data. We call for our trans* sisters not only to be included at the table when decisions are being made, but for their leadership at such tables. And because Black trans women are 50 times more likely to acquire HIV than other adults of reproductive age, we call for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy to immediately identify an accurate metric to track progress for the trans community. We can’t wait.