Today is Transgender Day Of Remembrance. Whether by nature or culture, people tend to feel sympathy and empathy with individuals and personal stories. The one symbolizes the many, however incompletely, because the many do not stick with us in the same way.
So many trans folks have been killed. The one that stares out at me, the person whose photos stare back at me, is Gwen Araujo, murdered in Newark, California on October 3, 2002. She was just 17.
Gwen Araujo was a lot of things to a lot of people. She was a No Doubt fan and a daughter and a Californian. But she wasn’t killed for being any of those things. She was killed because of her history. And in death, she has been largely been reduced to that one fact.
In life, she was not one thing or one identity. None of us are. We live in the world as whole people, individuals from the way we brush our teeth in the morning to the way we lay our heads on our pillows at night. Our medical history and our gender presentation and our orientation are part of us, but so are our ethnicities, our communities, our achievements, intellects, abilities and relationships. In life, she was a whole teen girl, but that all gets lost. In death, she is a collection of snapshots and a dry biography of a woman who left the world at age 17, because a group of men couldn’t coexits with one small fact about one small facet about a woman that they knew, and were attracted to.
Anyway, there’s more to her than “trans and dead” and there’s more to TDoR than “Gwen and many like her,” but while we can think about the many we tend to feel about the one, and Gwen Araujo is the one on my mind today.