Thursday, July 3, 2008
We Don't Exist
In her book "Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender and Sexuality in Nature and in People", Dr. Joan Roughgarden offers:
“By looking at how the universal human rainbows of gender and sexuality fit into the social categories of other societies around the world and at other moments in history, we may glean some ideas about how our own institutions may function better….Instead, many are surprised to learn how wide spread homosexual and transgender expression are among the peoples of the world and throughout history. Indeed, we’ve never been told.”
Indeed...we've never been told. And there are those that continue to deny our existence yet today. It is most tragic when we are denied our true selves even in our death.
The picture is of a lovely transgender woman, murdered this week in Memphis, Tennessee. Her body was found lying in a grassy area with a gunshot wound. The newspaper and television stories barely, or backhandedly, acknowledge her transgender existence. One headline reads "Man Dressed as Woman Found Dead near Daycare". The story mentions only the name of "Rodney Whitaker". My guess is that, as presenting in the picture above, she had a female name - so what is it? Why only refer to her as "Rodney"?
Another publication, "Out and About", a Tennessee LGB/T newspaper at least got the headline right - "Transgender Woman Murdered in Memphis" - but also referred only to a male name. One article in yet another cited that she sometimes used a different last name, not bothering to mention a possible different first name.
For a moment let's forget that the murder rate of transgender people is estimated by some to be twelve to fifteen times higher than the general population. For a moment let's forget that the rate of solving transgender murders - thus bringing their killer(s) to justice - is abominably low. For a moment - just one moment - could we at least provide us with the dignity of our existence even in our death?
Ms. Whitaker was 20.