More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Jillian Barfield - "What Does the Transgender Day of Remembrance Mean to You?"
The Transgender Day of Remembrance will be observed this Thursday, Nov 20. To commemorate the day, GLAAD will be blogging about issues relevant to the Day of Remembrance throughout the week.
We asked transgender people and allies to respond to the question "What does the Transgender Day of Remembrance mean to you?" This response is from Jillian Barfield.
Jillian Barfield is the owner and director of TJobBank, the first and only employment site designed specifically to bring employers and transgender professionals together. Jillian also manages the blog at TJobBank where, most recently, she has covered how the down-turning economy is affecting transgender lives.
I remember attending my first day of remembrance event in Saint Louis years ago. It was being held at a small church in the city. There were four or five people in attendance, all of them spread out amongst the pews. And there was one transperson. Me. A powerful service was quietly held in the dark little church - to pray for those trans people who had died that year due to violence and hate - and the names were read. And there were so many! I cried for every one. I cried because their lives were stolen. And I cried because the world isn't fair. I cried because of the lack of outrage. And I'm crying now.
Years have passed and we are denied housing. We are denied jobs. Our families shun us. Our friends turn their backs on us. And as our day - The Day of Remembrance - reflects - we are denied our very lives. At the same time some of our own purported advocates tell us that we haven't done enough to educate people. I say we've done enough. Enough.
So while our congress-people and lobbyists sit in their expensive homes with their loving families on our day - on the day that we remember our dead, I hope that they take a few minutes to reflect on how not having a job, not having a home, not having family can affect a life. How the very fact that these things are denied to us with impunity can give mentally unstable murderers the impression that we are less than human, a joke. I'd like them to reflect on those of us who are left - Left to remember our dead - and those that will come after.
It's time to stop this madness. I pray that a day will come where we won't have to remember our dead. When we can pick a day to celebrate instead of one to remember. A day when trans-people can walk in society with their heads held high without fear of being brutally slaughtered out of hatred and bigotry. . . Where their ourstrength and their fortitude and their overwhelming will to live as they were meant to be - will be recognized by all - as the truly amazing quality that it is! A day when our brothers and sisters won't have to die to be remembered. And that day is coming.