People often ask me, especially around this time of year, why I write blog posts memorializing neighbors who have been killed by the anti-trans terror in our nation.
That is actually the wrong question and I’m not the person to ask. Instead we should ask why mainstream media outlets are not creating the same content. Journalists who ask me should turn around and take that question to their publishers, editors, producers, unions, colleagues, and academic media hubs, even LGBTQ media associations. Where are they?
On this trans day of remembrance 2021, I am so sad and wrung out from having to write the most recent memorial post literally on the cusp last night as information was confirmed about the murder of a young Black trans woman in Memphis, Tennessee. But I live adjacent to the campaign, buffered by my cisgender identity, but grieving and mourning.
In the spring, a young woman named Chyna Carrillo was brutally murdered here in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Very quickly, another young woman named Ciora Thomas was driving from Pittsburgh to New Wilmington to offer support. Ciora is the Executive Director of SisTers PGH. But she made the 66 mile round trip, showing up to talk with Chyna’s coworkers, friends, and neighbors.
Then, informed by their input, she organized a vigil. She drove up and back again. Then she arranged for a van to drive neighbors up to New Wilmington for the vigil.
Ciora showed up. She listened and she organized with people, not for them. She demonstrated what TDOR is about.
Throughout the remainder of this year as each new homicide came to light, I thought of that simple and powerful response – setting aside your own priorities, showing up repeatedly, listening, and ensuring people have access to participate in memorial events.
That’s community leadership.
Ciora is not the only trans advocate on the ground doing this work, of course. And I think you would do well to invest yourselves into her work and the others doing similar work around the country. That’s how you honor the dead and support the living. To be honest, these are community leaders who have been vital in this specific work with me this year.
Ciora Thomas, SisTers Pgh, Pittsburgh
LaSaia Wade Brave Space Alliance, Chicago
Dee Dee Watters, TransGriot, Houston
Cymone Reyes, San Joaquin Pride Center
Zahara Gree, TRANScending Barriers, Atlanta
Jasmine Tasaki, We Care Tennessee
There are more. I encourage you to read the memorial posts, both here and elsewhere and look for the helpers as Mr. Rogers advised. And actively invest in their work – invest your time, your money, and your energy.
But – ask the right questions of the right people. Ask the media – especially here in Pittsburgh – why they aren’t doing their jobs.
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