An excerpt from a speech given at the Day of Remembrance vigil at AIDS Project Worcester, MA in 2007:
I’ve been at a few Day of Remembrance events over the years. At almost every one, I’ve heard a story that goes something like this: “This person who was killed last year did not deserve to get killed. She was a really beautiful woman. She always passed everywhere she went. She knew she was trans since she was a little kid. She just wanted to be a normal girl and not bother anybody. And she got killed anyway. It’s not fair.”
Of course it’s not fair that anybody get killed. But personally, I don’t need to hear any stories like that this year. I don’t need to hear any stories that imply that a trans person is worth something, is worth mourning, as long as they are passing and acting normal. I want us to make sure we are honoring all trans people and all people whose gender does not conform to society’s expectations for them. For example, why don’t I ever hear a story that goes like this:
“That girl, she was the least convincing woman I ever laid eyes on. Big-boned, barrel-chested hog of a woman. Girl had more hair on her back than my great uncle Albert, and she sang bass in the church choir. And she still didn’t deserve to get beat up.”
Or how about this one: “Boy did not even try. He had a knack for making straight people nervous, and he loved it. Pissed ‘em off on purpose. Boy had tits the size of basketballs, and he would still lean over a counter and show cleavage to get a free drink, even after his voice started changing. And he still deserved safety and respect and love.”
We are a bunch of damn fine people. Instead of us saying we deserve to live un-harassed because we’re just like ‘normal,’ non-trans people … Let’s say we deserve to live un-harassed because we do, because we’re human. And let’s therefore ally ourselves with anyone who is fighting for the rights of any oppressed group. Let’s be part of a broad social movement for the human rights, dignity and self-determination of all people everywhere.
And then we will be even stronger than the amazing strength that’s here in this room right now. And then someday, no one will be ‘at risk’ anymore. And then someday, soon, and in our lifetimes, we will not need to set aside days for mourning. Kein y’hi ratzon – may it be so.
Read the whole speech or other assorted musings on gender, Judaism, and social justice at Sometime Davey Wins.