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November 20th

Written by Robyn Morton from LGBT+ @ Sky

Today is November 20th, is for most people a day like any other. For some of us though, it is a day where we remember those who lost their lives for the pettiest of reasons. That reason, very simply, was for being true to themselves and who they are. They, like myself, and about 0.3% of the population, are transgender, and today is Transgender Day of Remembrance.

It feels weird for me to be writing this. I can't say that I have suffered because of being a transgender woman. I am quite lucky that I fit in. I look like I belong, and I work for a company that accepts me and all members of the LGBT+ community. That is something I will always be thankful for, but most of my gratitude must go to those who have gone before me. It goes to those who have perhaps not quite fitted in and have suffered for it. It goes to those who have still had the courage to stand up and say: “This is who I am and I'm proud of it.” It is only because of these brave people that I have the rights, freedoms, and recognition legally and socially that I do today, and some have paid the ultimate price for it.

It is sad to think too that there are some people who will never know the freedoms that I enjoy. This can be by virtue of where they live, where protections are just not there. It can be that family and friends do not support them. Nothing is more soul destroying than having to make a choice between your own happiness and maintaining family ties. For some it is an impossible choice that has no right answer. It could even just be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, a chance encounter with someone who takes a profound disliking to you. Such circumstances have led to 60 murders of Transgender people in 2017.

I wish this was the end of the story, but sadly it's not. Much more goes unreported or doesn't end in killing. General abuse of transgender people can destroy people's lives – lives that deserve to be lived. Lives that deserve to be cherished. This is not a life I would wish on anyone. It can be, and for the majority of trans people is, a very lonely road to walk down. It is one of the hardest choices to make to decide to live your life as who you are. There are massive medical, social and legal barriers to overcome. Ireland is quite progressive in that regard, but we can always be better. Whether it is in countries that are considered progressive, or in countries that may have a long way to go, more can be done.

It is only because of those who have given everything they have for the cause, and others who have added their voices campaigning for what is right that we have gotten to this point though. We are at a point where change is possible. We are at a point where change is welcomed. We are at a point where change happens, not just for the sake of saying we changed something, but for the betterment of society as a whole. And that is why this Transgender Day of Remembrance, I say to my brothers, my sisters, my role models:

“I remember you, what you wanted, what you have done, and what you have lost. For that, from the bottom of my heart, I am grateful to you.”

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