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February 2010

Section 1: News & Politics

You Can’t Have My Grief Editorial by Rachel Eliason At a party in October of 2002, Gwen Araujo was “outed” as transgender. Discovering this young woman was not biologically female, three men tied her up, beat her repeatedly, strangled her and dumped the body miles away. In August of 1995 a car accident turned fatal for Tyra Hunter. Discovering that she had male genitalia, EMTs stopped caring for her and made crude jokes while she bled to death. Robert Eads wouldn’t have turned any heads if he walked down the street. He was a man like any other, except that Robert had been born a girl. He still had ovaries, and in 1996 he developed ovarian cancer. Over twenty doctors refused to treat his cancer because they did not want a transgender patient. Early last year a good friend of mine decided that he had suffered one too many slights and assaults from a world that felt “she” should not be allowed to live “her” life as “she” truly was—a man. He was found hanging in his basement by his loving wife. His passing was devastating to all who knew him. It is stories like this, and there are way too many to mention, that led Gwendolyn Ann Smith to found the first Transgender Day of Remembrance. The day memorializes all those who have died as a result of outright hatred, or simple callous disregard. This fall the Des Moines LGBT commu-

nity celebrated the day of remembrance at the state capitol for the first time. We gathered, we spoke our minds, and our hearts. The governor, Chet Culver issued a proclamation recognizing the day. It was a simple act, motivated I would like to think, by human compassion. For this he is now being attacked by conservatives. Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center has accused Culver of promoting “sexual confusion and deviant behavior”. They want to paint the governor as evil because he acknowledged to suffering of one small minority. As a member of the transgender community I am outraged. Apparently it is not enough to prevent my community from having full civil rights. These people spend millions preventing gays from being able to marry. They lobby in Washington to keep words like sexual orientation and gender identity out of the ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) so they can fire us for who we are. Now they want our sorrow. To them I say: You can’t have it. You have no right to it. You have 364 days to paint us as “deviants” and call us nasty names. We have one. One day where we remember these people, not as you see them, but as we see them. One day when Gwen and Tyra were not “trannies” but beautiful young women who had their whole lives ahead of them. One day where Robert wasn’t a “freak”

but a kind man and a loving husband. One day where my friend did not have to die, because nobody hated him without even knowing him. Chuck Hurley, if you don’t want us to have a “special day” then stop hating us. Stop telling people it’s okay to hate us because we are different. Stop calling us deviants. Because when you tell people that it’s okay to hate us, some of those people are going to get it into their heads that this means it is also okay to kill us. And that is what has created the need for a Transgender Day of Remembrance in the first place.

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“After Amanda Simpson became the first transgender presidential appointee ... talk show host David Letterman announced Simpson’s appointment on his show and aired a photo of her. The show’s announcer, Alan Kalter, then reacted to the news with disgust and mock horror, saying: ‘What? Amanda used to be a dude? My God!’ He hurried off stage to laughter from the audience, apparently to go collect himself after the shock of this discovery. ... By promoting unfair and cruel reactions to transgender people, the David Letterman Show is feeding an epidemic of discrimination and violence that currently faces transgender Americans.” — The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Jan. 6.

ACCESSline, Iowa's LGBT Newspaper, February 2010 Issue, Volume 24 No 2  

ACCESSlineIOWA - Iowa’s LGBT+ Newspaper. Gay and lesbian, bi, trans, and HIV+ news for Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo/Cedar...

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