Why Can't We Be Loved?
Written by Morgan Sherm (@morganlooks)
Layleen Cubilette Polanco
Those names are among the latest transgender women murdered in urban communities. At least 26 transgender persons were murdered last year, per the Human Rights Campaign. 10 transgender women have been murdered thus far in 2019, all of color. Being a Chicagoan, those numbers sound low considering the trauma porn that happens in our neighborhoods daily but consider this: lots of transgender/non binary people are misgendered upon death (including Chanel Scurlock), may suffer abuse with fatal consequences or never openly asserted their identity with loved ones – that number is substantially higher. Think about that in conjunction with data that says the life expectancy of transgender women of color is somewhere between 30 and 35 years old. But let’s be honest...if most transgender women are dying between those ages, essentially they lived 10-16 years as their true selves before death caught up.
These recent deaths hurt me more than most. I could have been any of these transgender women. They entered the world earlier than me. They were stronger than me and many others, who are filled with fear and trepidation and come out later. They put their lives on the line without the resources to fight oncoming oppression. They were strong enough to survive in a world that denied them for their existence. But we, as a world failed them. We don’t offer Black and Brown women support when they are in need so we damn sure won’t extend a shield of protection to Black and Brown transgender women.
Transgender women deserve to be loved. We deserve to be loved by our families, our communities, our peers. People love us to a point. The love stops when you see that transgender woman of color going on tour and you whisper about it to people. That love stops when you see a transgender woman of color crowdfunding for food or hormones and you scold them for not working hard enough. Employment and employment discrimination are issues that directly impact every trans person. Unemployment is violence. It’s why so many of the girls are led to pursue income via dangerous means. But maybe my nieces and nephews will see a world one day where gender variance isn’t a death sentence. Because to be honest, trans women aren’t permitted the opportunity to find a significant other and plan a life. We labor to prepare for belligerent comments from passers by , we’re forced to exaggerate our femininity and then scolded with terms like aggressive and seductive which reduce us. We embrace our most powerful selves by being ourselves. And then a glass ceiling is closed on us until you want to be entertained. Living for acceptance almost killed me. Now I’m almost killed every day I live.
Protect the transgender people in your lives. Celebrate the transgender people in your lives. Love the transgender people in your lives. We deserve to be loved.
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