These are more than just names

 

Keyshia Blige, 33
Tamara Dominguez, 36
Kandis Capri, 35
Amber Monroe 20
Ashton O’Hara, 25
Shade Schuler, 22
K.C. Haggard, 66
India Clarke, 22
Mercedes Williamson, 17
Penny Proud, 21
Taja Gabrielle Dejesus, 36
Bri Golec, 22
Lamia Beard, 30
Papi Edwards, 20
Elisha Walker, 20
Jasmine Collins, 32
London Chanel, 21
Ty Underwood, 24
Yazmin Vash Payne, 33
Kristina Gomez Reinwald, 46
Zella Ziona, 21
Maya Hall, 27
Kiesha Jenkins, 22
Read those names. Read their ages.

Read them again.

Say them out loud.

These are the names of transgender people whose lives were taken at the hands of anti-trans violence in the United States this year. These people, most of them transgender women of color, had lives. Many of them were younger than I am.

Careers, hopes, dreams, loves, plans — all of them real, and all of them violently lost to a system that dehumanizes transgender people and perpetuates violence against them.

Read the names again. Read them to your friends and loved ones.

I am using my space this month to share these names with our community. This symbolic gesture will do nothing to alleviate the pain of those closest to the victims, and it is not likely to comfort to the transgender people, out and closeted, who live everyday with the fear that they will end up on this list. Although I want to extend my support to them, today and every day, they are not the people I want to reach with this list. I know that they have already read it many times over.

I want this list to reach everyone else.

It is no secret that the readership is generally white, male, and cisgender. I do not say that disparagingly, because I am as well, and that is the audience I want to address with this column.
Fellow cis white gays, we need to do better. We need to make space for our trans siblings, especially those who are not white, because they are disproportionately affected by all of the same forces that oppress us.
As a community of allies, we need to step up to the plate in our places of privilege and step back when it is time to amplify the voices of the downtrodden. We need to devote our time, energy, and resources to elevating and protecting transgender people. We need to do away with this list.
Read their names again. Remember them. Share their stories. Then get to work.

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