Tackling transphobic violence
November 20 marked the Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is a day for us to acknowledge the needless violence perpetrated against transgender and gender diverse people.
It is a significant reminder of the daily struggles trans people fight to maintain emotional and physical safety. Transphobic violence is real, and on this day we pay our respects to the people we have lost.
I feel it is timely to also reflect on how our communities respond to violence on the remaining 364 days of the year. Whether or not it is trans related or gender specific, violence exists in our communities and in our social environments.
Violence is a vicious generative cycle, which impacts not only the survivors, but also friends and family members of the people being hurt. The ramifications of violence are life shattering and destroy communities. That is unless people choose to become a part of the solution, rather than continue to enable the problem.
Our queer communities can start out as a refuge for young identity searchers escaping harrowing heteronormative pressures in suburbia or rural areas, providing a sanctuary for people to recover, rebuild and regain their strength.
This is something our communities achieve in stellar form, with parties, celebrations, festivals and the not too odd kiki. What lies within this scene is the problem, the preference to party hard and skim over real issues.
I myself am a fine and sometimes proudly trashy party boy, but I want to be surrounded by people in such environments who can cut through the superficial fog to address real issues when needed.
I feel our communities can safe house perpetrators of violence and avoid the necessary accountability process required to restore justice for a survivor and for a community.
So ask yourself, are you enabling someone else’s abusive behaviour? Do you invite known perpetrators to parties and get wasted, completely avoiding the real issues? How do we manage this better and become a part of the solution? How do we stand up to restore community safety and look after each other, including perpetrators who are in need of support to change their behaviours?
Perhaps start to pay attention to the way people are behaving towards each other. Is your friend being disrespected, hurt, humiliated or controlled? Are they consenting to this dynamic or are they even aware that it is happening? Can you make the time to follow up with them, to discuss your concerns and what you have witnessed? Have other people noticed similar occurrences? Trust your instincts and voice your concerns – it could really change someone’s life.
Justice is a community process, a personal outcome; it isn’t a homogenous concept where a blanket approach can be rolled out for each occasion. That being said, justice won’t occur and safety won’t be created or restored if people don’t take positive action. We need to work together, upskill our communication and heighten our awareness of people’s behaviours. Otherwise, without this hard work, remembrance days just seem like a cheap, token Band-Aid, that we pull off the following day and return to avoidance and denial.