The Day After

21 11 2008

The 10th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance has come and gone. As you see, my page is back to what it looked like before, with lighter colours. I’ve never really been a memorial kind of person. They get really emotional and sometimes I worry that people who don’t care about an issue the rest of the year, or who care but are unwilling to really do too much about it, take those days as their “pat on the back”. “Look, I’m a good person, I remember so-and-so on this day” then, for the rest of the year, they remain oblivious to how members of various groups of people on the planet are continually being marginalised.

Every day, I mourn someone. Every day, I think about children that are being used for slave labour. Every day, I think of people (mostly women and children) who are in situations of domestic violence and that feel trapped. Every day, I think of elderly people being abused in “rest” homes. Every day, I think of how people with mental disabilities are treated. Every day, I think of that mother in Rwanda that I read about who tried to escape genocidal killers with her 18 month old baby and who saw the killers chop up her baby when she dropped her. Every day, I think of the homeless people being treated as though they are less than human. Every day. Every fucking day. It gets pretty overwhelming, especially since I know I can’t effectively work for ALL of these causes.

I would guess that many people who have decided to be socially and politically engaged have gone through a process where they’ve had to pick their battles. We can’t fight them all and still be effective. But we can focus on a few, be thorough about it and still support the others.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say with this post. It’s early and I’m caffein deprived, and still a bit emotional. But one thing is that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to being concerned about groups that we’re a part of. Another is that I believe in fighting for social justice on an ongoing basis. You don’t need to be out in the streets with placards to do that. A big part of it is raising awareness any way you can. It can be through writing. It can be through lobbying. It can be through calling people on ignorant B.S. that propogates hatred or scorn toward a group. Just yesterday, a waiter at a restaurant that I went to with my son and his dad was commenting about another customer being “sick in the head” in that tone of voice that seems to remain acceptable when it comes to talking about people with intellectual disabilities. I asked him why he felt it was OK to stigmatise a group of people based on a disability. I probably didn’t change his worldview but I hope I made him think a bit.

I’m not sure if the little things I do make a difference but I can’t just sit back most of the year and only care about a group of people on one day. I can’t change the whole world but I can die doing what I can to change SOME things. And it’s great to know that, in a mass of people who only really care about their own well-being, their own material wealth, their own entertainment, their own privilege, there are people out there who ARE working for change. Some do it full-time. Some do it part-time. Some incorporate little actions into their daily lives.

I know you’re out there and I want to here from you.

So, the day after the day of remembrance, ANY day of remembrance, what do you do to make the world a bit better? What are the little things that you incorporate into your life to try to help eliminate discrimination? What would you LIKE to do? What can you do alone and what do you need allies for?




2 responses

22 11 2008

My primary focus is trans rights, but I try to battle the underlying assumptions that cause problems for trans people. This means that by attacking a core issue, we can help overlapping clusters of oppressed people.
– Body Fascism: transpeople, fat people, people with physical disabilities
– Psychiatric Institutions: transpeople, the mentally ill, neuro-diverse and disabled communities.
– Medical Institutions: transpeople, fat people, disabled people, women and children.
– Sexual repression/lack of sex education: Transpeople, queers, sex workers, kinksters, young people, people with STI’s, women and men.
– Relationship recognition: Transpeople, Queers, Immigrants, the elderly.

The list goes on and on. If I only work on each of these issues only in a way that helps transpeople I’m being lazy, because it doesn’t take that much more effort to address the underlying issues that make these things problematic for ALL the groups effected by them.

As far as little, everyday things go… well, I do what I can. I challenge peoples assumptions, and call them on their bull shit. I out myself as trans to medical professionals whether or not its need-to-know… because they all need to know that trans people exist, and they are treating at least one. I like to inspire other people to get involved in activism or social events. I like to mentor those that are questioning their own place in society. I like to touch and hold the lonely, those who don’t get to be hugged by their own family anymore. I like to comfort, and inspire, and motivate. I try to listen to the ones no one else listens to.

I refuse to think about all the trouble in the world though. I filter it out, because I am more effective as an activist if I don’t think about it too hard. I don’t read the newspaper, I don’t listen to the radio. I don’t hear about the wars, and the rapes and the murders. I turn a blind eye to the pain in the world, because I get so overwhelmed by it all that I stop fighting, and start self destructing.
So instead I fight the battles right in front of me, and rely on my friends and contacts to tell me if there is news media that requires my urgent attention. Maybe its wrong to do that, but I can’t take the world. Its too harsh a place for me. We need one more activist, not one more suicide, and I choose the former, because for me its one or the other.

24 11 2008
Jacky V.

Thank you SO much for sharing that. It’s great that your active on these issues and I love how you describe taking care of those who are alone or who aren’t listened to. That is important to me too.

As for filtering out, I hear you. I try. I go long periods of not checking out the news for similar reasons. But I do try to reconnect sometimes, just so that I can calibrate, etc.

Thanks again! Great comment!

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