In 2019, we have lost at least 22 trans sisters across this country to violence and hate. These women have been gunned down, strangled, beaten, and murdered simply for living their truths. I think about their families and friends and what they had to endure after losing their loved ones so horrifically. I think about my own family and friends and their concern for my safety. I know they fear that one day I’ll be next, that one day they will be mourning my death.
As terrifying as that thought is, their fears are warranted. Texas leads the nation in transgender murders, with more transgender people killed in Texas in the last five years than in any other state. On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, I want us to remember those who have lost their lives in Texas this year. Muhlaysia Booker, Chynal Lindsey, Tracy Single, and Itali Marlowe were beautiful souls who left us too soon.
Without state laws protecting transgender rights, there’s no telling how many more in our community we will lose. That’s why I’ve dedicated the past 24 years of my life to working in Texas politics. I’ve worked on over 50 campaigns and ballot initiatives in local, state, and national elections. My work has included fighting to pass the Non-Discrimination Ordinance in San Antonio and marching, protesting, and speaking with elected officials to fight the passage of House Bill 2, known as the bathroom bill. I continue to use my voice at every opportunity to ensure that trans Texans are not discriminated against.
After so many years fighting this fight, I started to think about the phrase “a seat at the table” and realized that I had been wrong about its meaning. I realized that the trans community was longing for more than just a seat at the political table. What we really want is a seat at the table of life – to feel loved, appreciated and respected for our contributions, skills, and achievements. We want to dream and set goals for the future in a safe and productive environment without discrimination.
The question then becomes, when will people stop fearing what they don’t understand and ask questions to advance a dialogue? I, personally, never felt the need to be accepted for living my truth. I never asked for anyone to accept me, as I had already accepted myself. I do, however, ask for respect – the respect that each and every one of us deserves.
As I look at the 2020 election, and all that is at stake, I can’t help but feel compelled to do more. Our community has suffered enough at the hands of extremists who feel the need to silence our voices and our truths, and I will not sit idly by and watch this happen. Loving the skin that I’m in, I will challenge the status quo. I will continue to fight for a seat at the table. If I find that all the seats are full, I will just bring my own chair.
You can visit Pride Center San Antonio, San Antonio Gender Association, or Transgender Education Center of Texas if you are a member of the trans community in need of help or resources, or if you want to learn how to become on ally.