Paying the price for being yourself

Sarah Valentine, newly elected to Proud’s national committee, reflects on the importance of Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) to her.

Just a year ago, I was welcomed into my workplace as me on Trans Day of Remembrance.

I was widely accepted in my workplace. I shouldn’t have to say that I was incredibly lucky to have such an experience, but the sad reality is that for many transgender and non-binary people, acceptance and, even worse, tolerance remains the exception rather than the norm.

As what is effectively my “first birthday”, the day holds special significance to me personally. However it is also a day I hold close to my heart because this day, 20 November, marks the Transgender Day of Remembrance.  It is a day where we pay respect to those who have paid the ultimate price for simply being themselves.

When I think of this year, I think of the friends I’ve lost.  I think of how they all wanted to see a better world, but how in their darkest hour of need, they felt the world had given up on them.

I also think of the hate that still exists, forcing many of my trans and non-binary friends into poor mental health, self-harm and suicide. For me I consider myself fortunate that in my hour of need, I had that one supportive voice that reminded me to hold on.

Just one voice is all it takes to save a life, and as a union, our voices have power.

With that power we can work towards a world where all are equal, where deadly hate speech, such as misgendering and deadnaming, and bullying against trans and non binary people no longer exist.

One day I hope we can recognise and welcome all of our trans and non binary friends and family members without issue. I believe that as human beings, everyone would do that for another, regardless of circumstance. However, as I think many of us would recognise, we aren’t there yet.

Just a year ago the world got to meet Sarah.

At the same time there were at least 36 trans people who still walked this earth, from countries all over the world including the UK, France and Canada.  They walked this earth with colour, passion and strength. They faced hate, they accepted it as a reality as do many trans people and attempted to continue living their lives.

They paid the ultimate price, and today they are lost to us, victims of unnecessary hate rooted in transphobia.

To them, brothers, sisters and non binary siblings, may you rest and may your sacrifice help us all to make the world a better place.

To you, I urge you to help make such a world a reality. To support trans and non binary members, and the wider community and to call out and report transphobia wherever you come across it.

 

Proud represents LGBT+ members in PCS and is open to all PCS members, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Visit the equality pages for more information regarding Proud, including how to join.

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