November 14, 2009.
Just got back home from our “Day of Remembrance” in Indianapolis. It was a very nice evening here (clear and in the 60’s).
The evening’s activities started with the play “Transactions.” Three actors shared their real-life experiences with transitioning (two M2F, one F2M) and the challenges of living day to day as a transgender individual. What made it more interesting than simply a monologue was that the three acted out each of the scenarios. Each actor played a variety of rolls and interacted quite well with the others. Although presenting a serious message, the play was relatively light hearted, fast moving, and entertaining. I found it very educational as well.
After a 15 minute intermission, the actors and director participated in a panel discussion with the audience. Again, most of the questions were “easy” and along the lines of “does anyone at work know,” “when will you perform this again,” etc. Many people in the audience shared their own stories–usually with humor. Only when someone asked about how real the threat of violence was did the discussion take a decidedly more serious tone. All of the cast members then related stories involving threats or acts of violence against them or someone they knew. Each one acknowledged that the threat of violence is a very real part of everyday life for transgender people. One of the cast members shared as how she is always afraid that someone might be following her after work and routinely checks her car to make sure “the tires are OK” and the “check engine light is off” so she will not have to stop in some unknown area on her way home. The way each of them talked about this you could tell that it was not just something they had “read about” happening to someone else–but had really experienced. All too often. It was pretty sobering. During my lifetime at least (since the early 80’s), our society has made progress in many areas. One group that still seems broadly discriminated against is the LGBT community. It is also a target of brutal violence. That really hit home for me tonight.
The final activity was a candlelight “vigil.” This consisted of each person placing several flowers, each with the name of a victim, on a board at the front of the church. While we did that, a multimedia presentation ran showing pictures of many of the victims since 1970. I thought of Angie Zapata. After placing my flowers I sat back down and watched the rest of the presentation–again I was stunned by the sheer number of victims as well as the level of brutality in most cases. The fact that some of the victims were “admirers” or had been involved in a relationship with a transwoman was not lost on me either. I remembered a close call Stephanie and I had when we were just 13 and said a prayer for my friends who face this everyday. Eventually Angie’s face appeared on screen.
On a much happier note, I made several new friends. “Marg” (not her real name) must have felt sorry for the “big guy by himself” and came over to talk. I also got to meet the cast members. In the lobby there was information on “intraa” (Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance) and also catered food and drink–Agio’s from downtown Indy did a great job!
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