Note: This is a speech student leader, Semyon Kiyan (he/him) gave at Transgender Day of Remembrance 2021 at North Seattle College on November 19, 2021 in the Art Gallery. If you’d like to watch a recording of his speech, click here. For a recording of the day’s presentation, click here for part 1 and here for part two.
We have lost too many of our community to the disease of transphobia and bigotry. We have always been and continue to be ready to fight against these forms of hatred against us.
One of many places to start minimizing hatred towards our community is in schools. We need to introduce educational curriculums about the transgender community in schools to crush this overall negative stigma of transgender women being male pedophiles in dresses walking into women’s restrooms, and the stigma of transgender men being women who are throwing away their womanhood. This is not who or what we are. We are people trying to live our lives. Schools need to teach students and staff about people in the community who have done amazing things, like Sarah McBride, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Aydian Dowling, Gavin Grimm and so many other transgender public figures who have helped make the change we need and deserve, as well as shining a light on the bumps in the road our community experiences on top of these crimes, bigotry, and negative policies/laws. Schools also need to give resources to their transgender students to better the lives at school and not just at home or the doctor’s office.
Today is also the day we commemorate those we have lost in the transgender community. I would like to quote someone I hold dear to my heart, Leelah Alcorn. This is an excerpt from her suicide note:
“The only way I will Rest In Peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights…. my death needs to mean something…. fix society. Please.”
Even though she ended her own life, these words ring true for those who have been murdered. We need to better society for those we have lost, and of course, those who are alive, aiming to keep them alive. Like Leelah Alcorn said, you need to treat us like humans with valid feelings and human rights. Because that’s all we are: human beings.