Note: Ever since the 1960s when I was involved in the anti-war in Vietnam Movement there have been parasites who use every single event, commemoration or protest as a fund raising opportunity. While I am a socialist the Trotskyites of the Socialist Worker’s Party have been extremely annoying over the years, showing up at every single event to sell their newspapers.
When Matthew Shepherd was murdered and turned into a martyr I saw this tendency among the organizations I refer to as Gay Inc. No tragedy is too horrible for people to use as a fund raising tool or as a lever for a political agenda that often times lacks even the barest link to the agenda that it is being used to push. Now Transgender Inc with its national offices and “Professionals” seems to be following a pattern laid out by Gay Inc.
From the start I have been skeptical regarding the Transgender Day of Remembrance. At first due to how Gwen Smith seemed to be using it as a spring board to national fame and a paying career.
But I also saw it as problematic due to its failure to use these deaths to create discussion about some of the major issues within the transsexual and transgender communities. High risk behavior including street prostitution, drug abuse, silicone pumping and high risk sexual behavior.
While we worked hard to pass hate crimes laws which were relevant to these murders and violence we have fallen down when it has come to the preaching of measures that might help people avoid becoming martyrs. We are told that is “Blaming the Victim.” As if pointing out that street sex work is more dangerous than patrolling downtown Kabul while wearing body armor and carrying an M16.
Where are the programs? The ones offering alternatives.
Instead we get fund raising piggy backing on to a memorial service, and not even fund raising for a project directly related to lessening high risk behavior and the violence including murder that accompanies such behavior.
By Marti Abernathey
October 30, 2011
Reposted with Permission
Donate to the Transgender Law Center, Because a Dead Body is a Terrible Thing to Waste
I hate writing this post, but every year I have to write it. From 2010 I wrote:
“I’m pissed. Every year I write this post. EVERY SINGLE GODDAMN YEAR. You just can’t help but feed off the dead. You did it in 2007, in 2008, and 2009, and you’re doing it again this year. What am I talking about? Every year I do a post about a group that is either exploiting or misusing the Transgender Day of Remembrance.”
And here I am, another year later, and I have to essentially write the same post.
Today I see this on Facebook by the Transgender Law Center’s Executive Director, Masen Davis, asking:
“In honor of Trans Day of Remembrance, please join the Remember.Respond.Renew campaign and help the Transgender Law Center reach its $10,000 goal.”
To Davis, I’d like him to listen to the founder of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Gwen Smith.
“Now as you can guess, I do have an investment in the Day of Remembrance. As its founder, I cannot help but cringe when it is tacked onto a party – or when a beer bust is added. It’s not about me, however, as the event is much bigger than that. It is out there, and has a life of its own.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a moment of activism, when we honor those we’ve lost, when we seek justice for the victims of anti-transgender violence, and where we make a silent commitment to those lost that we will make a better world for those who come after: a world where we have the right to exist.
It has also been a day that brings a sense of closure to friends and family of the victims, where they can see that their loss was not in vain, and that there are people out there who do care about these people.
It can also be a time of solidarity, when people of all stripes, transgender and non, can come together as one people to say, plainly, that the issue of anti-transgender violence is not to be tolerated.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is for Pickett and Hester. It’s for Brandon Teena and Gwen Araujo. It is for hundreds of those we know were killed, and for thousands more we may never know.
This year, too, it is about people like Roy Jones, a 16-month-old infant who was pummeled by his babysitter for acting like “a little girl.” It’s about Ashley Santiago Ocasio who was stabbed to death in Puerto Rico and Azra, a Turkish transwoman who was shot in the back of the head. It is about them and many more.
The event is not about dance parties. It is not about being funny nor bitchy. As important as issues of bullying and suicide are, the Day of Remembrance should not be overshadowed for the sake of ratings or remaining topical. It is a somber, sobering event – and should probably not have cover charges or cheap beer mixed in with the sorrow and anger.”
“It leaves me cold, and questioning exactly how does one ‘bring the community together’ by co-opting a date for an event that has been around for more than a decade. I wonder if their response would be the same if they had scheduled their celebration on December 1 (World AIDS Day) or if they might find that in bad taste. If the latter is true, what makes the Day of Remembrance any different?
Also, why host an event on bullying and suicide at your anniversary celebration? Why did they not do that on Spirit Day? Why conflate so many things into such a hodgepodge? But I digress.
Over the last few years, I have heard reactions from people, indicating that the Transgender Day of Remembrance is a “depressing” event. I don’t disagree. It is difficult to hear these stories, and realize that this remains such a large-scale problem.
For that matter, I’d fully support an event that is a celebration of who we are. I’d love to see, for example, a really big party held every August – the anniversary of the Compton’s Cafeteria riot where transgender people stood up against the police in San Francisco – where people of every hue of trans identity could shake their groove things.
I’m all for laughter, dancing, and even a drink or two – but not on this one day. This is not a day to dance on our graves.” – Gwen Smith (via ebar)
If the day isn’t for parties or uplifting events, it’s most surely not a day to fund-raise for your non-profit. You might as well put The Transgender Law Center NASCAR type graphics on coffins or get a organ grinder and a monkey and troll for cash on trans victim’s graves.
I support the work of Masen Davis and the Transgender Law Center. But the Transgender Day of Remembrance isn’t a day to fund-raise over. Please save it for another day.