Transgender Day of Remembrance

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“The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”
– Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith

Sometimes I feel I am risking my life when I step out.  Do you ever feel that fear?

Sadly, there are those who have lost their life when they went out.  Nothing makes me angrier than someone getting hurt because of who they are.  Do you ever feel that anger?

2017 has been the deadliest year yet for the transgender community.

I am sharing a portion of a post that originally appeared on Human Rights Campaign’s website.  It is a frightening and devastating article to read, but we need to.

Sadly, 2017 has already seen at least 25 transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. As HRC continues to work toward justice and equality for transgender people, we mourn those we have lost:

  • Mesha Caldwell, 41, a black transgender woman from Canton, Mississippi, was found shot to death the evening of January 4. The murder is still under investigation and no suspects have been arrested.
  • Sean Hake, 23, a transgender man in Sharon, Pennsylvania, died after he was shot by police responding to a 911 call from his mother. A friend told WKBN that Sean “had a genuinely good heart and he had struggled with his problems.”
  • Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, an American Indian woman who identified as transgender and two-spirit, was found dead in her apartment in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A suspect, 25-year-old Joshua Rayvon LeClaire, has been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter in connection with her death.
  • JoJo Striker, 23, a transgender woman, was found killed in Toledo, Ohio, on February 8. Striker’s mother, Shanda Striker, described her as “funny and entertaining” and said her family loved her deeply. 
  • Tiara Richmond, also known as Keke Collier, 24, was fatally shot in Chicago on the morning of February 21. A transgender woman of color, she was found dead on the same street as two other transgender women that were killed in 2012. 
  • Chyna Gibson, 31, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in New Orleans on February 25. Chyna was a much-loved performer in the ballroom community who was visiting friends and family in New Orleans at the time of her death. 
  • Ciara McElveen, 26, a transgender woman of color, was stabbed to death in New Orleans on February 27. McElveen did outreach for the homeless community. As of February 28, 2017, HRC has tracked at least nine murders of transgender people in Louisiana since 2013.
  • Jaquarrius Holland, 18, was shot to death in Monroe, Louisiana, on February 19. One friend, Chesna Littleberry, told Mic that Holland was “like a younger sister” and had helped her learn to accept herself.
  • Alphonza Watson, 38, was shot and killed in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 22. Watson’s mother said her daughter was “the sunshine of our family,” a “caring, passionate” person who loved cooking and gardening.
  • Chay Reed, 28, a transgender woman of color, was shot and killed on April 21 in Miami. Reed’s longtime friend told Mic about their longtime friendship — describing her as someone who was full of life and beloved by many.
  • Kenneth Bostick, 59, was found with severe injuries on a Manhattan sidewalk, he later died of his injuries. Few details about Bostick’s life have been reported, he is believed to have been homeless at the time he was attacked.*
  • Sherrell Faulkner, 46, a transgender woman of color died on May 16, of injuries sustained during an attack on November 30, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police are treating the assault as a homicide. No arrests have been made at this point.
  • Kenne McFadden, 27, was found in the San Antonio River on April 9. Police believe she was pushed into the river, which runs through downtown San Antonio. A high-school friend of McFadden described her to local media as assertive, charismatic and lovable. No arrests have been made, but police said they have a person of interest in custody.  
  • Kendra Marie Adams, 28, was found in a building that was under construction and had burns on her body on June 13. Police have charged Michael Davis, 45, with Adams’ murder. Adams also went by Josie Berrios, the name used in initial media reports on her death.
  • Ava Le’Ray Barrin, 17, was shot and killed in Athens, Georgia on June 25 during an altercation in an apartment parking lot. In an online obituary, friends remembered Barrin as a “social butterfly” and an “amazing girl” who “loved to make people laugh.”
  • Ebony Morgan, 28, was shot multiple times in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the early morning of July 2. Morgan was transferred to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. Authorities have named Kenneth Allen Kelly Jr. as a person of interest in the case.  
  • TeeTee Dangerfield, 32, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed on July 31 in Atlanta, Georgia. According to the Georgia Voice, Dangerfield “was found with multiple gunshot wounds outside of her vehicle at the South Hampton Estates apartment complex.”
  • Gwynevere River Song, 26, was shot and killed in Waxahachie, Texas, on August 12. According to their Facebook profile, they identified as “femandrogyne” and a member of the bisexual community.
  • Kiwi Herring, 30, was killed during an altercation with police on August 22 during an altercation with her neighbor. Relatives told Huffpost the neighbor was transphobic and that excessive force by police led to her death.
  • Kashmire Nazier Redd, 28, was fatally stabbed by his partner on September 5. A friend wrote on Facebook “[Kashmire] loved hard and just wanted to be loved and [accepted].”
  • Derricka Banner, 26, was found shot to death in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 12. Friends describe Banner as a “playful spirit” and “go-getter” who enjoyed life.
  • Scout Schultz, 21, was shot and killed by Georgia Tech campus police on September 16. The GT Progressive Student Alliance, a progressive student advocacy group on campus, called Schultz an “incredible, inspirational member of our community and a constant fighter for human rights.”
  • Ally Steinfeld, 17, was stabbed to death in Missouri in early September. Three people have been charged in her murder. Steinfeld’s family said Ally “sometimes” identified as female on social media. 
  • Stephanie Montez, 47, was brutally murdered near Robstown, Texas. Montez’s longtime friend, Brittany Ramirez, described her as “one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.” 
  • Candace Towns, 30, a transgender woman who was found shot to death in Georgia. Town’s friend, Malaysa Monroe, remembers Towns’ generosity. “If I needed anything she would give it to me. She would give me the clothes off her back,” Monroe said.

When we lose a member of our community, it reminds me of how important it is that we keep going out.   To remain visible in the public.  To be in our communities.  To be understood.  To be tolerated.  To be accepted.  To be loved.

We will get there.  I hope.

Do you ever feel that hope?

Love, Hannah

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Two More Steps Forward!

Yay!

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From Fader:

In July Danica Roem became the first openly transgender person to run for the Virginia House of Delegates. Tuesday night, having won that race, she became the first openly transgender person seated in any state legislature in the country. For her run at the slot, Roem campaigned against incumbent Bob Marshall, a Republican, who had held the seat since 1992.

And that’s not all!

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Also from Fader:

Shortly after Roem’s race was called, it was announced that in Minnesota, Andrea Jenkins became the “first out trans woman of color elected to public office in America,” according to the press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. Both Roem and Jenkins were preceded by Althea Garrison who, in 1992, served one term in the Massachusetts state legislature though she was not out at the time.

What a wonderful night.  I think the transcommunity needed a victory like this.

Love, Hannah

 

 

In Their Own Words: The Tretter Collection Transgender Oral History Project

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From the Minnesota Daily:

The University of Minnesota unveiled an exhibit documenting the history of the transgender and gender non-conforming community on Thursday.

The exhibit, titled “In Their Own Words’: The Tretter Transgender Oral History Project,” is on display at the Elmer L. Andersen Library. A celebration was held for the exhibit, which included an announcement about the project’s future.

“I just want to highlight why it is so important that we tell our narratives at this time while we are still alive,” said Andrea Jenkins, oral historian of the transgender oral history project. “Because in 2017, 23 transgendered people … primarily transgendered women of color [have] been murdered.”

This sounds like a really amazing exhibit.  I definitely plan on going.  Here are the details of the exhibit:

The exhibition is open October 13, 2017 through January 31, 2018
Elmer L. Andersen Library Atrium Gallery

Exhibit hours: Monday, Tuesday, & Friday | 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday & Thursday | 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

More information here!

Love, Hannah

The Gender Recognition Act

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how California was considering a third gender option to their state issued identification cards.  Over the weekend, California Governor Jerry Brown did exactly that.

Not only that, there is also Senate Bill 179 which, according to Huffington Post, also reportedly makes the process of an individual changing their gender on legal documents easier by no longer requiring a statement from a physician declaring that they’ve undergone “clinical treatment.”

So, any readers in California thinking of making this change on their identification cards?

Love, Hannah

 

The Minnesota Transgender Alliance

I had the honor of speaking at last night’s meeting of the Minnesota Transgender Alliance in Minneapolis, whose mission is to provide resources and support to all members of the transgender community.  I talked about creating and organizing the MN T-Girls, my experiences as a transgender girl in the Twin Cities, the responsibility of being a positive representative of the transgender community, and the importance of being honest with ourselves about who we are.

I met some amazing people and I was grateful for the experience.  I look forward to partnering with the MNTA more in the future.

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Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

Do they have books on transgender, crossdressers rights when we go out on the town?

Before I jump into this, please visit and bookmark these two links that provide answers and information to frequently asked questions regarding the laws and rights of transgender individuals:

ACLU

Human Rights Campaign

I’m sure there are books, however, with how frequently the laws can change, a book will eventually become outdated.  As far as I know, there aren’t any states that says it is illegal to be transgender.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a long time to go.  As of today, it is legal to fire someone on the basis for being transgender in over half of the states in the country.  According to the Human Rights Campaign:

Right now in 32 states there is no state law protecting transgender people from being fired for being who they are. Only 18 states (CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IL, IA, MA, ME, MD — effective Oct. 2014, MN, NJ, NM, NV, OR, RI, VT and WA) and D.C. currently prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

We all have rights, but each day we hear of someone’s basic civil rights being violated.  Discrimination based on gender and race will likely always exist.  You have the right to be treated as a human being, but that doesn’t mean everyone will respect you and interact with you in the way you deserve, unfortunately.

You should also be aware of what the laws in your state are when it comes to using the restroom that align with your gender identity.  According to the ACLU:

There’s no clear answer here because very few courts have considered this question and the results have been mixed. In two recent positive decisions, an administrative agency in Colorado in 2013 and the Maine Supreme Court in 2014 both ruled that under those states’ gender identity discrimination laws, transgender girls had the right to use girls’ restrooms at their public schools. On the other hand, a 2001 Minnesota Supreme Court decision found that even a law prohibiting gender identity discrimination didn’t necessarily protect a transgender woman’s right to use the women’s restroom at work. And a federal appeals court in 2007 upheld the Utah Transit Authority’s decision to fire a transgender bus driver, based on a claim that her employer could be sued for her use of women’s public restrooms along her bus route. In a non-workplace context, a New York appeals court ruled in 2005 that it wasn’t sex discrimination for a building owner to prevent transgender people from using gender identity-appropriate restrooms in a building where several businesses shared restrooms.

Authorities in some jurisdictions (e.g., Colorado, Iowa, Oregon, Washington State, San Francisco, New York City, and the District of Columbia), however, have specifically said that denying transgender people the right to use a gender identity-appropriate restroom violates their nondiscrimination laws. Some jurisdictions (e.g., Iowa, San Francisco, and D.C.) go farther and make clear that transgender people can’t be required to prove their gender to gain access to a public restroom, unless everyone has to show ID to use that restroom. Other jurisdictions (e.g., Chicago) continue to allow businesses to decide whether a transgender patron may access men’s or women’s restrooms based on the gender on their ID, which may or may not reflect accurately the person’s gender identity.

Many businesses, universities, and other public places are installing single stall, gender-neutral restrooms, which alleviate many of the difficulties that transgender people experience when seeking safe restroom access. Some cities (such as Austin, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and West Hollywood) have local laws that require single-stall public restrooms to be labeled as unisex. While this is often a useful step towards addressing the concerns of transgender people and others, the ACLU believes that transgender people should have the right to use restrooms that match their gender identity rather than being restricted to only using gender-neutral ones.

My advice is to use a gender neutral bathroom if possible.  There is also an app and website called Refugee Restroom that, according to their website:

REFUGE is a web application that seeks to provide safe restroom access for transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming individuals. When the Safe2Pee website passed out of functionality it left a hole in our hearts. REFUGE picks up the torch where Safe2Pee left off and makes the valuable resource available to those who find themselves in need of a place to pee safely once again. Users can search for restrooms by proximity to a search location, add new restroom listings, as well as comment and rate existing listings. We seek to create a community focused not only on finding existing safe restroom access but also looking forward and participating in restroom advocacy for transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming folk.

Be aware of your rights.  Be safe.

Love, Hannah

It’s Been a Busy Week for Hate

It’s been a hard week.  Most of our attention these past few days has been focused on the horrific events that occurred in Las Vegas on Sunday.  As the shock fades, our country returns once again to gun control laws and the never ending discussion of our rights and the government’s obligation to protect its citizens.

This is not an invitation to discuss gun laws, so please be mindful of that in the comments.

A country’s obligation and role in protecting its people extends in many different ways.  Whether it is protecting our personal rights, having access to proper medical and mental care, as well as ensuring our civil rights are maintained.

This week we saw the Trump administration roll back the mandate that employers provide insurance coverage for contraception based on religious freedom.  This, of course, will open the door to other discriminating changes that are also based on religious freedom, potentially rights that protect the LGBTQ community.

What does this have to do with the transcommunity?  Well, everything.

I think most of us here believe that transwomen are women.  Issues that affect cis-women are also issues that transwomen should be concerned about as well.  While it is true that reproductive issues may not affect a transwoman personally, we should be outraged when any right of any woman is denied, especially when it comes to one’s healthcare.  If we want to be viewed and accepted as women when we visit the mall in a cute dress and heels, then we must also champion for the rights of ALL women.

If the GOP wants to deny healthcare to cis-women, whether directly or indirectly, then they will not hesitate to take away the protection of transwomen.  Which brings me to my next point.

If you had any doubt that the Republicans hated us, this week also saw the Trump administration end workplace protection for the transgender community.  Unless it’s in an effort to be needlessly cruel, I do not see any point in going out of your way to take away a civil right from us.  This week was a busy week for this administration as they somehow also found time to request a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military.  One would think that escalating tensions with North Korea, hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico and mass shooting in Las Vegas would take more precedent than stripping away the rights of women and the LGBTQ community.

Things were going, well perhaps not well, but things were less terrible for us not too long ago.  What happened?

Love, Hannah