The day after seeing baby Matilda in London, I attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance Ceremony in Brighton.
Fresh life, fresh death. The official statistics for those identified as having been murdered in the previous twelve months around the world for being trans were a bit 'better' than last year, but there was a word of caution. It seemed that some police forces in foreign countries were getting careless about recording the exact cause of death, which may have led to the undercounting of gender-inspired hate crimes. And, as ever, many countries simply didn't provide the necessary statistics. The true total of victims might be anything from 1,500 upwards. Or double that. It's impossible to say. Even one death was of course an outrage against the positive imperative imposed by modern civilisation to treasure all life and let it flourish, especially as many victims were young and might have contributed much to their societies if allowed to live.
Even if the Wall of Remembrance had fewer cards stuck on it than last year, it didn't seem so. The Wall looked pretty crowded to me:
Trans persons pushed into suicide were not forgotten - notably Lucy Meadows, the Lancashire teacher who gave up on life after attempting to transition on the job, and for whom the 'public interest' attacks from the Daily Mail were the last straw. There was a card for her:
Nor were murder victims from past years forgotten. 2009 saw two trans women murdered in the UK, one of them in Brighton - Andrea Waddell. Her mother, Sonia Waddell, was there, and placed this card on the Wall for her daughter:
Mrs Waddell knew me, and came over to speak. She gave me a gift, a copy of her daughter's poems::
The book says much about Andrea's achievements and the depth of her thought. Possibly she was untypical of most murdered victims, in that she came from a family who loved and accepted her without reservation, and that she received a good education. So many victims have been disadvantaged persons callously rejected by their families. Andrea's killer was sought, found, put on trial, found guilty, and sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2010. In that sense, justice was done. But the void left by Andrea not being there cannot be filled. I think that Mrs Waddell is a brave woman, to bear the loss of such a daughter. So are all the other mothers who lost a son or daughter to the bigoted cruelty of the world. I can't believe that deep down their hearts these mothers were not torn, even if their particular community and religion sternly and heartlessly forbade grieving for their 'deviant' child.
I keep going to these annual ceremonies. I feel I must. I could have so easily have been a victim myself, and there is nothing to prevent it happening to me at any time in the future. I may look safe, but I am not. No trans person is. Any of us might one day encounter a man, or a gang, with a psychopathic prejudice out of control. If the encounter takes place in circumstances where no escape is possible, in a private house or flat for instance, death will result. And hatred of trans people, a hatred driven by fear and loathing, seems to lead to extreme viciousness and a horrible end to life. I can't get it out of my mind that one day I will be faced with this. If ever I do, it will be literally a fight for my very existence, with no guarantee of winning.
I have little doubt that each murder victim through the years has known in their hearts that they would also, one day, have to fight for their lives. They were on the margin of their societies, they could not avoid trouble and risk, and it was inevitable that their luck would run out. I am lucky to live where I do, in circumstances that give me some control over the risks. They were not so fortunate. The least I can do is turn up once a year and salute them for coping with difficulties not of their own making, until they were picked on, sacrificed to someone's pathetic beliefs, and ruthlessly put down.