A Guest Post by Transguyliner
[CONTENT WARNING: Discussion of transphobia, mental health, murder, suicide, rape]
Last Saturday, people gathered in Glasgow to remember Leelah Alcorn and to show solidarity with and within the trans community. This is one of many similar events that have taken place since her death, calling for the enactment of ‘Leelah’s law,’ a law that would make the practice of ‘transgender conversion therapy’ illegal in the US. If you can think of ‘gay conversion therapy,’ it’s essentially the same type of horrible shit. It’s a form of abuse trans people are being subjected to, in the hope of making us ‘normal.’ In Leelah’s case, it was her parents who subjected her to this violence, cutting her off from her friends and keeping her in almost total isolation, ultimately pushing her to take her own life.
The suicide note she posted on tumblr went viral, and expressed a hope that her death might bring attention to the discrimination that is killing trans people. As Leelah’s message spread across social media, there was a lot of hatred shown towards her parents, which was, with no great surprise, met by ‘conscientious’ cis people demanding they be shown respect while they grieved. Personally I’m not saying we should be sending them death threats, or even giving much time to them as individuals, but how telling is that when a trans girl dies, cis society is demanding we shed our tears for the cis people who killed her. When trans people are pushed to taking their own lives because of the abuse they’re subjected to, be it from their family, coworkers, the Daily Mail, or cis society as a whole, we need to call it what it is; murder.
The demo saw a good turnout, and an amazing energy. There wasn’t much structure to the event, which is good and bad in its own ways. The event was put together by members of the trans community who wanted to make sure Glasgow took part in the worldwide commemorations. They don’t have the experience and the resources of mainstream LGBT activism behind them, because the truth is mainstream LGBT activism is still not that concerned with the T. Glasgow City Council were as obstructive as possible (of course), refusing to grant permission for anything/everything and forcing the organisers to hold a static demo which didn’t require their approval.
The always unwelcome Socialist Worker’s Party showed up and were quickly shown the door, so credit to the organisers for making clear that a group involved in covering up rape and attacking those who challenge them aren’t welcome in our spaces.
As they always have, the trans community is coming together with little outside support. While I saw plenty of my cis friends down on the attending list, and I’ll hear them list of trans rights as one of the many issues they totally care about, I didn’t see that many of them there on the day. I just want to make it very clear that paying a bit of lip service and talking about how cool you think Laverne Cox is isn’t enough to cement you as our ally. You need to be out at events like this (if you can be, of course) and listening to what we have to say to you. That also means not taking the megaphone at a trans rights event to talk about how hard you find it being a cis ally (as 3 people did, to the sound of eyes rolling, because guess what, we’ve actually get to hear about your perspective ALL THE TIME…and we don’t actually care.
Even so, the organic nature of events like these brings a lot of positives. Without the rigid structure of usual left or lgbtq events, that’s puts by and large white cis men on the platform, there’s the opportunity for anyone to get up and say their piece. (also room for radical discourse, i.e one speaker’s points about lack of focus on murders of trans women of colour, and the law not currently protecting them at all anyway (CeCe Mcdonald or Monica Jones cases very good examples).
The organisers understood the most important thing about this demo was bringing members of the trans community together, and helping us empower each other. For anyone at the event, it was so apparent that these people give a shit about each other. It’s the lack of this that is missing from left and mainstream lgbt activism, and that is ultimately killing it – You passionless cis fucks, you’ve got a lot to learn from this.
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