Monday, 23 November 2009
Transgender Day Of Remembrance ceremony in Brighton
This particular ceremony had added poignancy in that Brighton had a recent victim of its own, Andrea Waddell, and Mr and Mrs Waddell were present. Also the Police and members of the local City Council.
The occasion (my very first) was solemn and moving. Much of the time was given to reading out the names of those around the world who had become victims of anti-trans hate crime during 2009. Each of the 60-odd persons attending was asked to read a name and whatever details were stated about the date, location and manner of death. It was voluntary to take part; but not many found they couldn't do it. It was awful to hear. When it came to my own turn (this happened twice, so many names) I felt very strange and quite shaky. But I spoke clearly; the victim deserved to be heard, and not lost in a whisper. Mrs Waddell read out Andrea's own name. She did so with dignity, and did not dissolve into tears. What a brave woman.
Josephine had come down especially to be present. We both spoke to the Waddells afterwards. We learned that Andrea was buried within two miles of my home, in a lovely spot looking at the South Downs. Jo and I went to see it next morning. It was a very windy, wet morning. We weren't sure which was the exact grave, and there was nobody around to ask. We were soaked by a sudden squall, but no matter. I will go back in the next two or three days, and lay two roses on her grave, one from Jo, one from me, from the bunch Jo brought down for me (I was putting her up for the night). And say a private prayer.
Mrs Waddell told me that Andrea had modelled clothes for a shop in Brighton near Preston Circus. They have a window display devoted to her just now. I'll find it.
Perhaps it was as well that Andrea - caring, articulate, pain-racked Andrea - was the focus of the ceremony. The endless recital of names might otherwise have been chilling and depressing. It was striking how many deaths occurred in Latin American countries. Perhaps (I am only theorising) there was something about the men in those countries, their upbringing or culture, that triggered ferocity when they discovered or were told that their girlfriends or sexual partners were not natal females. Something that took control. Something that turned them into murderers and beasts. Something that a mere 'OK' from the Pope will not reach. The victims were done to death in apartments and on the streets. There was no safe place. They were stabbed, shot, mutilated. It was horrible.
Do those in this country (and we have plenty of hate crime in the UK) who look down their sniffy noses at transsexuals, and declare us to be abominations and parodies and mental cases have any concept of the cruelty and brutality that lies further along their way of thinking?