We all too often hear that this day is a day where we must not let the deaths of these women be in vain, but this just underscores the transactional nature of these women’s deaths, most of whom fought no war. They lost their lives not in valour, but only as a result of being women in a world filled with gendered violence. They lost their lives because — all too often — our society casts out the disenfranchised and marginalized, no longer calling the huddled masses and tempest-tossed to our communities with heartfelt calls of liberty and virtue.
The truth is, one of the things the politicized LGBT community is very good at is co-opting. There’s a specter of death fetishization that hangs over much San Francisco — I’m using “San Francisco” as a metonym for the rich, ivory-tower, commercialized members of the LGBT rights movement, for obvious reasons — discourse surrounding queer victims of hate crimes, or ones who belong to non-queer-identifying gender and sexual minorities (GSM people). In short, Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena are narratives people love to talk about because it propagates the notion that they, too, could be in great danger of death via hate crime. I am making this post in part to briefly to say: we aren’t. From one relatively privileged member of the GSM diaspora to many other relatively privileged members of the GSM diaspora: we aren’t. I have many things to fear out of life, but they are not usually the same things that the people memorialized at TDOR had to fear. I am not in this kind of danger.
But many people are.
So, I’m going to stop talking about the many people who weren’t murdered during 2012, and use the rest of this space to remind everyone to try and put in a thought or a prayer for the people who were. It can be very self-centered and appropriative to speak of this as our girls getting murdered, our sisters. The fact is, I haven’t done a damn thing for any of these women, and neither have most of the Bilerico or Smith College folks who talk about them. The point isn’t that our girls and our sisters have been murdered. It’s that girls and sisters have been murdered. Girls. Sisters. Women who had the misfortune to live in a world that we’ve failed to improve.
So here’s to everyone on this list who got needlessly, senselessly killed for existing, here’s to everyone executed for the crime of living their own life. They did not die for a good reason. They did not die “in vain,” or not “in vain,” because that would imply that they intended to do so.
In pace requiescant. I am sorry.