The amazing Ms. Vanessa Edwards-Foster, long-time trans-activist and co-founder of National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (N.T.A.C.), offers her experience-based wisdom as the keynote speaker at the official Illinois 2009 Transgender Day of Remembrance, which was observed at the New Spirit Community Church (in Oak park IL) this year. This secular but highly spiritual annual event was co-sponsored by Illinois Gender Advocates and Equality Illinois. This series of videos were produced, directed, shot (on location) and edited by Ms. Cyndi Richards (I.G.A. Chair) and Ms. Kimberly Nicole (Film 'n Video, Chicago) with the sole purpose of spreading the word far and wide about the ongoing series of unprovoked acts of fatal violence that victimize individuals who are perceived as gender-variant by xenophobes and other bigoted "haters" .
In 2009, approximately 120 human beings (that's TEN per month, or one every THREE DAYS!) from all over the world had their lives taken from them by other ignorant and violent human beings who could not simply "live and let live". (Point of fact: these disturbing statistics reflect only those murder cases which were reported to the authorities.) In Illinois (as well as other enlightened communities across the U.S.), we also pay tribute on this day to the legions of trans-folk who have succumbed to the slow, agonizing, ongoing effects of day-to-day discrimination by mainstream society, as well as the inexcusable incidents of "horizontal violence" (Google it) that occur within the LGBT community itself, which inevitably lead to isolation, hopelessness, and ultimately suicide. Those unique lives also had great value to the community, even if they themselves did not recognize that fact in their time of loneliness, desperation and sorrow,. Collectively we are ALL diminished by their tragic and highly avoidable choice, but they too deserve to be remembered. It is unreasonable to expect society to accept and respect trans-people when so many of our own community do not even respect each other. How many more people have to die, regardless of method, before we learn to take care of one another?
If trans-folk can't even manage to "watch each others' backs", then who will?
For more about I.G.A. and the fine, all-inclusive work they do for the entire Illinois transgender community, please go to www.genderadvocates.org.
Also please feel free to share this important message with anyone who truly cares about the safety, dignity, and basic human rights of transgender people. Together we CAN "stop the madness".