As community organisers and involved members of the Australian trans male and/or AFAB (assigned female at birth) trans/genderqueer communities we, the undersigned, feel that using Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) to promote projects which do not provide a platform or voice for the most vulnerable and only self- serve for individualistic gains to be disrespectful, unethical and immoral. We wish to make this statement because any critical feedback that is obstructed or erased is not only unconstructive to public discourse but is also deeply harmful to any marginalised community where voices are silenced on a daily basis.
We acknowledge that projects of a personal nature and benefit, that are promoted during TDoR can and do cause deep hurt for people. TDoR is about a global issue about the violence and murder that trans people experience as a result of transphobia and misogyny. This is affecting so many people and we believe that to turn a day of remembrance into an opportunity for self promotion and self gain and even as we have witnessed, in to a fundraising opportunity for ones own surgery is something we find to be in direct opposition to our politics, nor does it reflect the sentiments and the principles of TDoR.
We wish to acknowledge the lived realities, struggles, oppression and experiences of trans* people in a world where misogyny, discrimination and hate rule over the lives of marginalised and vulnerable groups of people. In particular, we are speaking about trans women, trans women of colour and trans women who are sex workers, who disproportionately experience greater levels of transphobic violence and are at greater risk of being attacked, experiencing sexual violence, being abused, murdered, assaulted and vilified.
For us, this is what TDoR stands for, to honour the ones who have been taken from us, to acknowledge and pay respect to the ones who struggle to assemble a life fully lived, free from harm and daily oppression. We are not saying that trans guys don’t experience similar prejudices or attacks, in fact some of us personally have, but unfortunately the reality is, disproportionately trans women experience a greater amount of violence, due to the anti-female fuelled violence in this world that seems determined to devalue, dehumanize and demoralize women. Further to this, systematic oppression silences the voices of those most vulnerable. We don’t provide spaces to hear from the people who really need the most help and instead we speak for them and about them. This is everything that we believe is wrong with TDoR. We want this to not be another day in the queer calendar which perpetuates all that we know is wrong with society.
We need to make a concerted effort to build stronger and unified communities where the voices of minority groups and those on the fringes are supported to lead true social change. This kind of change will improve the lived experiences of all people, both within and outside of the queer and trans communities. We often label the voice of dissent as ‘annoying’, ‘divisive’, ‘hating’ and ‘raining on our parade’, but this silencing of marginalised voices perpetuates structures of oppression. When we do this, it is a missed opportunity to learn and evolve and strengthen the resistance to the oppressive forces, which undermine us all. It is only through conversations, which often involve criticisms, anger and passion that we can learn from one another and this is not something we shy away from.
We acknowledge that events, which may personally benefit individuals in the community can come from a place of good intention and is most certainly not purposely malicious. Therefore, this statement is an invitation to learn and to connect with a long standing community of trans* people who have been actively involved in creating a strong network and facilitating change on many levels. There are many more people out there who have been doing this – there are many unsung heroes and those who are not acknowledged who continue to fight transphobia everyday. We would also like to extend our ongoing support and efforts to building a safer and healthier national community, and one which is all inclusive and unified between trans men, trans women, gender non-conforming people and allies and/or trans connected communities.
Perhaps we can turn this into an opportunity to generate more conversation on how we can go about doing this and listen to each other about what impacts each persons life, so that we can strive to be truly inclusive, understanding and supportive within our communities and beyond.
Jez Pez, Xavier Moustache, Ash Pike, Teddy Cook, Atari Metcalfe, Villy, Jayke Burgess, Gabe Curtis, Patrick Kay, Jaxxon Chilli, Blake Coburn & Okapi.