The continued failings of Transgender Day of Remembrance

Note: As seems to be necessary to clarify, this comes from a very localised, Kiwi perspective. If you want to make some criticism rooted in US-centricism, just don't.

It's that time of year again: Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), where mainstream cis feminism and the internet makes a misguided and half-hearted attempt to be seen to care about trans issues. We've got cis people retweeting sombre tweets from USA Gay Inc. and changing their profile pictures to professionally designed pictures from aforementioned groups.

No one seems to question the fact that it isn't "Transgender" Day of Remembrance, it's "Transgender Women of Colour Sex Workers Living In 3rd World Countries" Day of Remembrance. There is one white face on the list this year and all were trans women. Characterising these deaths as being directly due to their trans status is distracting from the causes behind the majority of their deaths. By far they were not killed because their killers recognised them as trans. They were killed because their society's stigma against trans people, women and people of colour put them in a socio-economic position where they were far more at risk of violence.

Even only focusing on the very few killed as a direct result of transphobic men (yes, it always is men), many cis people remain ignorant of the circumstances and do little to help prevent such incidents in the future. The most recent New Zealander to make the list was in 2009: Diksy Jones from Upper Hutt. There was little attention given to the fact that the killers got away with manslaughter charges under what was essentially a "gay panic" defence.

No one questions the fact either that the vast majority of attendees at TDOR events are cis "allies" that pop out of the woodwork for this one event a year and AFAB (assigned female at birth) trans people. Very few trans women attend, almost none are of colour and even fewer are given a chance to have a voice.

TDOR should not be the one trans related event of the year allies attend. Where were all the Wellington allies when we marched on the US embassy in solidarity with unjustly incarcerated trans women? Where were you when the Auckland trans health services were defunded? When did you campaign for the depathologisation of Gender Identity Disorder? When did you campaign for more accessible health care and official document changes? Why are you just flat out ignoring any criticism of your actions now?

TDOR misses the vast majority of victims of transphobia in society who are not murdered but take their own lives or those who face abuse: sexual, physical and mental. 42% of US trans people have attempted suicide (and taking race and identified gender into account that figure rises greatly), no one knows how many succeeded. No one cares enough in New Zealand to find out what the statistics are like here.

I mourn every day for all our losses and victims. I can't pretend like it has gone away for another year on November 21st, being able to do otherwise is privileged.