I’ll be back home in about 50 hours, and the main thing I have to worry about before then is my paper due Friday at 1. After that, I’ll be free to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving with my family and think about everything I have to be grateful for.
But, it’s easy to forget that not everyone has those things.
I got a reminder of that today at noon in Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, when I saw senior Gus Wood taking a silent stand to commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors those killed because of their gender identity.
The day began 15 years ago after the murder of trans woman Rita Hester, and is observed to remember those who have been killed each year and remind communities that trans lives are valuable.
I didn’t know that until after I saw Gus’ demonstration and did a Google search for more info. Had I not seen it, I probably wouldn’t have known today was the Day of Remembrance, or that such a day existed, and I’m sure many others on this campus wouldn’t either.
The most basic thing I’ll have to enjoy over break is my parents’ house, something I take for granted, and yet homelessness is one of the biggest problems facing LGBT youth in America.
While only three to five percent of the U.S. population self-identifies with the LGBT community, up to 40 percent of its homeless youth do, as they are often driven from their homes by families that do not accept who they are or who they love.
With the lack of shelter comes increased rates of depression, drug use and prostitution. Violence against members of the LGBT community is also a major issue, one exacerbated by the discrimination many members receive from police, who are supposed to protect them.
For someone who likes to identify as an activist for social justice, I’m often blind to transgender issues until they’re pointed out to me.
I’d never even considered the concept of preferred pronouns until we were asked to introduce ourselves by them, if we were willing, at the first meeting of my spring break mission team (one of its aims is transgender advocacy, so I have a lot to learn by then). I didn’t know about today’s remembrance, and I hadn’t even thought of the reasons behind the push for gender-neutral housing until a meeting on it during Pride Week.
I grew up in a small town, attending Catholic private schools that were steeped in cisgendered, white, middle-to-upper-class privilege. Sure, we talked about the civil rights movement (though mainly by watching dramatized adaptations like “Mississippi Burning” that focus on anachronistic white heroes) and the women’s movement received some attention, but issues of sexual orientation received little discussion, and gender identity even less.
After two and a half years at OWU, though, that’s not much of an excuse for continued unawareness. At the risk of sounding preachy, everyone can do more to learn about the struggles other groups face, and I definitely have a lot more to do.
Today’s certainly a good day for it.