"Aye. Yo, man, what the fuck is that?"
"Right there. Aye, is that a girl or one of them sissy queers?"
"What, you mean like a fag or something?"
"I don't know man. She kinda looks like one o' 'dem trannies or some fucked up shit like that."
"Well 'den let's go find out."
"I know that you claim to identify as a gay male but...."
"You're not a "real" man though....."
"I'm just having a hard time accepting it. I don't think you're really transgender."
"So you aren't just saying that God made a mistake by making you a girl, you're saying that you want to be an abomination and be a man who is having sex with other men?"
"The devil is going to tear you apart because you insist on living this way...."
"You're a GIRL, I don't care what you feel like. Get over it!"
"So, you wanna be a man, huh? Well then fight me like a man then. You don't like me hitting you, then bring it on, otherwise I'm going to beat you like the bitch you are."
Over the last four months I've had these things said to me, about me, around me.
I have had to grip the handle of my cane tightly in my hand, ready to swing out and defend myself, just in case someone decided that they wanted to see just what I was.
I have had people ask me where my genitals were located and that that determined if I was "really a man or not."
I have had people question my decision, tell me that I'm not really transgender, and others tell me that I'm not a "real man."
I have had those same people tell me that I "shouldn't take it personally" because they worked with or knew transgender people/teens or had transgenders in their family.
That's not an excuse.
That's just like you insulting me because I'm black and then telling me not to take offense because you have black people in your family or because you know black people.
You insulted me. You hurt me.
And that hurt has led to me fighting against thoughts of suicide, of cutting my wrists, throwing myself out of a window, throwing myself in front of a car. The fear of being attacked and being killed makes me want to walk with my head down some days or to just smile and nod when someone calls me "she," "ma'am," "her," or "lady."
I have a friend who lives in Chicago that I wanted to visit and he told me (in no uncertain terms):
SD: Vic, no. You can't come here alone.
Me: Why not?
SD: It's dangerous for me to be here, black and gay. But you? You're not just black, you're black, you're a transgender male, and you identify as being a gay man. Don't you get it? They will kidnap you, rape you, beat you and kill you and toss your body into a ditch on the side of the road before you even get too far from the airport and the police will just say that it was because you were alone or something. Because you look like you're transitioning, you don't just look female or just look male, you can tell and they will hurt you because of that. You can't come here alone. Not yet.
Today is Transgender Remembrance Day. A day when families and allies of transgenders gather together to remember those who lost their lives, were beaten, attacked, disowned, cast aside, hurt, all because they were transgender.
I thought long and hard about what I would write on this blog of mine which is so much different from the others that I write. This one is personal. This is the blog where my journey started. This is the blog where I admitted the truth about myself. This is the blog where I can be me.
I knew that I needed to use today, and this very same blog to raise awareness of the issue of transphobia and being transgender in this day and age. There has been some very ugly, very disgusting and disturbing displays of transphobia within the online community that is supposed to be supportive but I believe, as does many others, that through education and those of us who are trans* speaking out that we can raise awareness and spark change. I shall start today doing even more than I did before. (If you would like to stand with us, please copy the two pictures on my blog and post them on your blog or as your avatar or something in alliance with us.)
Every three days in America and other parts of the world a transgender person is reported as having been killed in a hate crime. I would like to honor some of them and hope that today you will stand with me and with others to remember those who lost their lives and to help end transphobia, because those statements above can incite others to violence and intolerance and hatred and those things can lead to death and it must end here. Because even if you don't know a trans* person in your personal life you know of one: ME.
Erika Keels (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 3/22/07) Erika, a 20-year-old black transgender woman, was murdered on March 22, 2007, on North Broad Street in Philadelphia. Witnesses saw an assailant eject Erika from his car and intentionally run her over four times, killing her and leaving the scene. A medical examiner’s report supports these eyewitness accounts. But police ruled Erika’s death an accident and have refused to conduct an investigation. The driver, Roland Button, was later apprehended, but he has yet to face criminal charges–including “hit and run” charges. When Ms. Keels’ friends, who are themselves trans, questioned police officials about the classification of her death as an accident, they were asked to disclose their “birth” names and told they were “trying to make something out of nothing."
Sanesha Stewart was a 25-year-old trans woman living in the Bronx, New York, who was stabbed to death on February 10, 2008. An ex-convict was arrested for the murder. Police reported that he had visited her for sex and became enraged over the realization that she was not biologically a female. Stewart's murder, initially reported by the New York Daily News as "Fooled John Stabbed Bronx Tranny", outraged transgender activists for the act as well as the reporting in the media. A neighbor denied the police's assertion she was a prostitute. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) intervened to inform the Daily News that tranny is often considered pejorative and dehumanizing and that insinuating Stewart "fooled" her murderer was both defamatory and irresponsible. The paper dropped both tranny and fooled in follow-up stories and changed the online version of the original report to address the concerns raised.
Larry King of Oxnard, California, was a gay or bisexual 15-year-old eighth-grade student who was shot to death at his school on February 12, 2008. He wore gender variant clothes, jewelry and make-up and had come out as gay at school. King was bullied and teased by his fellow students due to his effeminacy and openness about being gay, having come out at ten-years-old and while in the third grade. On the morning of February 12, Lawrence was in the school’s computer lab with 24 other students. Fellow student, fourteen-year-old Brandon McInerney was witnessed repeatedly looking at King during the class. At 8:15 a.m, McInerney shot King twice in the head using a handgun. King was declared brain dead the next day but kept on a ventilator to preserve his organs for donation. Prosecutors charged McInerney as an adult with murder as a premeditated hate crime and gun possession. The trial is pending as of November 2008. The crime was reputed to be the most high-profile hate crime case of 2008. Newsweek described it as "the most prominent gay-bias crime since the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard", bringing attention to issues of gun violence as well as gender expression and sexual identity of teenagers.
Duanna Johnson, a 40-year-old African American transgender woman. In February 2008, Duanna was picked up and arrested by Memphis, Tennessee, police officers Bridges McRae and J. Swain. She was pinned down and beaten by the two men in a Memphis police jail after she refused to respond to anti-gay and anti-transgender slurs. The assault was captured on video, which aired on several regional newscasts. In an interview given to FOX 13, Duanna spoke about her experiences. “As [Officer McRae] was calling me, he said ‘hey he-she, come over here’” Johnson told FOX 13 reporters, “I knew he couldn’t be talking to me because that’s not my name.” Duanna Johnson received national media attention this past June when she went public about the brutality she suffered at the hands of two Memphis Police Officers. She became “the public face of our community’s campaign against racism, homophobia, and transphobia” according to a statement from the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. Tragically, Duanna did not live to see full justice served. On Monday Nov 10, according to news reports, Duanna was shot “execution style” between Hollywood and Staten Avenue in Memphis, Tenn.
Felicia Melton-Smyth, a 41-year-old transwoman, was stabbed to death on May 26, 2008 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She was vacationing with a group of 20 people from Madison, Wisconsin. Francisco Javier Hoyos Reyes was arrested immediately afterwards.
Angie Zapata was a trans woman who was murdered on July 17, 2008, in Greeley, Colorado. Her death was the first ever case involving a transgender victim to be ruled a hate crime. Colorado is one of only eleven states that protect transgender victims under hate crime laws in the United States. Allen Andrade, who learned eighteen-year-old Angie was transgender after meeting her and spending several days with her, beat her to death with a fire extinguisher. In his arrest affidavit, Andrade calls Zapata "it", and during his trial a tape was played of a phone conversation in which he told his girl friend "gay things need to die". Andrade's attorneys used a gay panic defense, implying that Andrade suddenly "snapped" when he learned Zapata was not born biologically female. On April 22, 2009, Andrade was found guilty of first degree murder, hate crimes, and car/ID theft. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
LaTeisha Green was a trans woman who was murdered on November 14, 2008. The man who shot her, Dwight DeLee, was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime against gays. There are no laws protecting gender variant people in New York State.
Tyli A Nana Boo Mack, a 21-year-old transgender woman, was attacked and fatally stabbed in broad daylight on the street in Washington, D.C.  The attack occurred on the 200 block of Q Street, NW around 2:30pm, near the offices of Transgender Health Empowerment, a transgender support group. Mack was walking with an unidentified transgender woman when they were attacked. Both victims were rushed to Howard University Hospital, where Mack died. TheMetropolitan Police Department advertised up to $25,000 in compensation for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Mack's murder. Some problematic coverage of Mack's murder led the D.C Transgender Coalition to issue a statement regarding respect for the gender identities of trans people.
Victoria Carmen White, a 28-year-old transgender woman, was fatally shot at an apartment in Maplewood, New Jersey, on Sunday, September 11. White went to the apartment with her killers, Alrashim Chambers and Marquise Foster, whom she had met earlier that night. Investigators believe that White's killers shot her upon learning that she was transgender and are considering hate crime charges. Many transgender advocates were confused and upset by the Essex County Prosecuter's Office's initial report that White was male, despite the fact that her documentation and genital configuration confirmed she was female.*
Find somewhere that is honoring Transgender Remembrance Day, help us end transphobia.
An Out and Proud Gay TransMAN
*Information gathered from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unlawfully_killed_transgender_people*
*Photo images taken with permission from: http://amaras-place.blogspot.com/2011/11/i-see-myself-embrace-rainbow.html#.TskWPlsNt6o.facebook *