A report just released this week by the FBI states that hate-crime violence is at a 16 year high and that anti-trans hate crimes skyrocketed up 40% from 2017 to 2018. So far this year at least 28 transgender human beings have been killed or gone missing in this country. Nearly all of them are black. Nearly all are women. We have to do better.
This past weekend our Pride Youth Leadership Academy was held in Balboa Park. Youth from every corner of San Diego County and our neighboring Imperial County came to learn skills and make connections to help them be their own best advocates. The majority of them self-identified as trans, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming. It warmed our hearts as youths that were too terrified to put their real pronouns on their application asked us if they could change their name tags to reflect who they really were. They felt safe.
Unfortunately, during the academy, our public-facing restrooms that had been converted to gender-neutral multi-stall restrooms for the day were vandalized multiple times. Our staff, including myself, were berated and harassed multiple times. One woman shouted at us repeatedly, “I support what you’re all about, but you can’t force me to use the restroom with a man!” We kept our cool and wished her a nice day.
As our movement continues to push for greater visibility, acceptance, legal protections, and equity, the push back stoked by a vehemently anti-trans administration is having a loud and violent impact on our community. We need to continue to invest in our trans community in ways that build upon their power, knowledge, and safety.
Next week is Trans Day of Remembrance. We will hold up the images, names, and ages of those who have been taken too soon. We will read their names out loud and mourn the vibrancy that was robbed from them, their loved ones, and our community. Each one of them stolen from us is one too many. As our trans community calls out #WeWontBeErased, we must answer with action so that we can all live to see a world that includes all of us in our Legacy of Liberation.
Fernando Lopez is the Executive Director of San Diego Pride. Lopez’s years of LGBT advocacy, nonprofit management, public education, diversity consulting, media relations, guest lectures, and organizing have made him a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.