Stephanie Battaglino: "What Transgender Day of Remembrance Means to Me..."


Since Chaz Bono's casting on Dancing With The Stars, GLAAD has been profiling prominent transgender advocates and members of the community on a weekly basis. Previously, we featured transgender advocates Stephanie Battaglino and Mari Rosenberger. As the 13th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance approaches, we asked Stephanie to share what this day means to her.

For me Transgender Day of Remembrance is a very solemn and reflective time – and quite emotional.  Why, in today’s society, are people being killed for just being who they are – for making the heroic decision to simply live their lives on their own terms and embrace their true selves? In many respects, it is the ultimate irony and far too steep a price to pay.

I am not naïve. I know there are segments of our society that blinded by fear and a complete lack of understanding would rather not deal with transgender people at all, as if we were somehow disposable people.  How dare they!  Who suddenly appointed them both judge AND jury over other human beings?  That’s what gets me so upset and so sorrowful – all at the same time.  Whether they choose to recognize it or not, we are all God’s children, we are-as the bumper sticker on my car reads – “One Human Family.”

As each name is read aloud at the service, typically along with a brief description of how they were the victim of some horrific act of violence, I find myself overcome with emotion and drowning in a pool of tears.  A life ended . . . a dream shattered . . . a voice silenced . . . perhaps family and friends left with only one question to ask:  Why?  These are real people:  sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and friends – a loved one – to somebody, somewhere.

Transgender Day of Remembrance wakes me up like a cold slap in the face and reminds that there is so much work that needs to be done, so much intolerance and violence that must be eradicated.  That’s what drives me to live the life I do – to educate, inform and advocate whenever and wherever I can, so that maybe, just maybe, we won’t have any new names to read at Transgender Day of Remembrance services in the future, and we can transform the Day of Remembrance into a Day of Celebration.