By Elyse Lopez
Transgender Day of Remembrance is a time to remember family, Debbie Drew, Out & Equal Transgender Advisory Chair said:
“In reality we all become one big family, so it’s not remembrance of people, but remembrance of family members who are no longer with us.”
Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is a time to remember those in the transgender community who have died as a result of violence against them based on their transgender identity.
However, according to Olivier Blumer, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates Transgender Advisory committee member, it can also be a time to reflect on those in the community who have contributed their life work advocating for equal rights, “people who have been doing things behind the lines, even if they weren’t killed,” Oliver said. “These lives are not taken lightly. We stand with all transgender people.”
We’re also losing many members of the transgender community to a high rate of suicide.
“It’s triggered by a numbered of factors: unemployed, underemployed or being fired because they’re trans,” Oliver said.
One of the ways to get involved is to partner with organizations dedicated to transgender advocacy, employee resource groups (ERGs) at work and non-profits that give back to the trans community.
“See how you can hold out your hand and help other people find jobs,” Oliver said.
Being transgender in a professional workplace makes Debbie think about diversity and inclusion. “We can’t pretend it’s going to fix itself,” she said. “The only way to help change cultures is to be involved and provide resources.”
And being involved can be as simple as standing up for what’s right.
“If someone says something derogatory don’t let them get away with it,” Debbie said.
Selisse Berry, CEO and founder of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, has always advocated for the “T” community in the workplace equality movement.
“When we started Out & Equal we weren’t only referring to it as the gay community or lesbian community, but as the LGBT community,” she said. “We were inclusive from day one.”
When, during the 2007 Out & Equal Workplace Summit, a national organization urged Out & Equal to support an ENDA that only included sexual orientation, Selisse and the board didn’t budge.
“I stood up and the entire board stood up and said ‘No, we’re standing on behalf of our transgender brothers and sisters’,” Selisse said.
The LGBT community is more than just a group of people coming together, it’s a family, she said.
“We’ve lost too many people in our movement,” Selisse said. “Even with so much more awareness, murder still happens. It’s important to stop and remember that.”
If one person in the world is affected by prejudice, that means everyone is affected, Debbie said.
“The transgender rights movement is like the civil rights movement because it generates equality for everyone,” Debbie said. “If anyone is discriminated against, discrimination exists for everyone.”
This Transgender Awareness Week and TDOR, it’s critical to remember there are people who are targeted for violence and discrimination just because they’re transgender.
“Any form of discrimination, including workplace discrimination, gives license for violent people to attack us,” Debbie said. “TDOR is time to remember and reflect.”