Sunday is Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance occurs annually on Nov. 20. It is a day to memorialize people killed as the result of transphobia, (hatred or fear of transgender and gender non-conforming/non-binary people). We also remember those who died as a result of suicide.

This day serves to bring attention to the continued violence and non-acceptance endured by the transgender community which we see at an alarming new rate all across this country.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed in cities all across the U.S. and in more than 20 countries around the world. In the preceding 12-month period (November 2021 to November 2022) in the United States alone, 42 people were brutally murdered just for identifying and presenting as transgender or gender non-binary/non-conforming. A majority of those murdered are transgender women of color. It is time to stop this violence, hate and senseless death! It is time to celebrate the wide range of gender diversity many Americans and especially many New Yorkers share.

We often confuse a person’s sex with their gender. A person’s sex is determined by their physical anatomy. Gender is in our minds — how we see and think of ourselves, who we know ourselves to be, how we express ourselves daily to people around us.

In our culture, we traditionally quantify sex and gender as a binary of possibilities — female/feminine or male/masculine, with little room for variation in between. Transgender and gender non-binary/non-conforming individuals transcend or cross over these traditional gender boundaries. We view life in a much fuller, richer continuum of possibilities across a variety of gender-related spectrums.

Transgender, the “T” component of LGBTQI, refers to how we identify, express ourselves and desire to be accepted, on a daily basis.

Many people in society today view LGBTQI as a “choice.” I can assure you this is not a “choice” to be forced to hide ourselves from those we love; live or work with for fear of rejection, harassment, loss of employment, loss of access to medical, dental or behavioral health care services, denial of social services, public accommodations or housing; for fear of physical or verbal assaults, or the very real possibility of being murdered.

These are not “choices” we make. We are not looking to be changed, fixed or forced into a lifestyle deemed socially acceptable by others.

In recent years with the rise in ultra-conservativism, ultra-religious liberty rights, the MAGA movement and other anti-LGBTQI/anti-transgender legislation enacted across the nation aimed an innocent transgender children and parents. It is increasingly not safe for our children to attend public school, participate in sports or any other event designed to make their live as normal as possible given their transgender/gender non-binary identity. Thankfully, parents of trans/non-binary students are standing up and defending their children and demanding their children should be treated with equal dignity, respect and consideration as any other student in school.

Non-discrimination laws enacted in recent years are constantly being challenged in many states which once again seek to deny basic human rights to LGBTQI — and especially transgender/gender non-binary — people of all ages, races, ethnicities and social backgrounds.

The transgender community is continuing to make ourselves known and visible in everyday life. If we are to live in a modern, progressive society, we must welcome and accept all people regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression along with all the other protected groups of people who reside in this state?

When will we as a society finally learn to “do unto others, as we want ourselves to be treated?” “Respect the inherent dignity and worth of every person” and to finally “love our neighbors as ourselves?” Time to practice what many say they profess!

A Transgender Day of Remembrance service will be held via Zoom from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20. For more information, email ancga@outlook.com or visit our Facebook page to register at www.facebook.com/events/1128985614722680.

(Kelly Metzgar lives in Saranac Lake and is executive director of the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance.)

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