By: Patrick Douglas
Janet Mock, a prominent Transgender advocate and writer, spoke at Portland State University (PSU) in a presentation which honored the memory of those who have been murdered because of their Transgender identity.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance, which occurs every year on November 20th, was established to memorialize those who have been killed due to Anti-Transgender hatred or prejudice. Communities come together for public mourning, candlelight vigils and name-readings which honor the lives of those who have been lost.
“As you mourn and remember, never forget to reach back and pull your community up with you.” Mock declared. In her view, it is important to respect and remember the dead, but also to work to strengthen the bonds of community and help struggling Transgender individuals.
Students of PSU and members of the Portland community gathered to hear her speak. “She was right; it isn’t enough to mourn the tragic loss of members of the Transgender community. If that is all we do, we are not helping to pave the way for a brighter future for the younger members of that community.” Kate Marshall, a PSU graduate student, offered her input on Mock’s presentation.
“I think it would be great if we saw each other as human beings and not just adjectives.” Mock proclaimed. According to Mock, the media often describes the experience of Transgender people as being ‘trapped in the wrong body’. She stated that we often put people in confining boxes, citing a news program about a Transgender child. The child was asked ‘Do you feel trapped in the wrong body?’ According to Mock, this type of question may limit a child in developing their own self-perception.
“I was probably about 4 years old when I knew that I was a girl. No one else knew this but me, but it became my very first conviction.” Mock said, in a video for the ‘It Gets Better’ project. During her visit to PSU, Mock recounted her experiences growing up.
“All too often, we have a tendency to ignore Transgender people, particularly Transgender women and Transgender women of color until they are the victim of violent crime.” Marshall said. Transphobia accounted for more than 70 murders between November 20th, 2011, and November 20th, 2012. Mock focused her attention on prominent Transgender women of the past, victims of Transphobia, and women currently advocating for the Transgender community.
“I think [in the future] we will expand the idea of gender, and Cis people will begin to get it.” Mock said. Cis refers to the word Cisgender, which means that your gender identity matches with the sex you were assigned at birth.
Mock was hopeful and encouraging, handling the presentation with confidence. According to Marshall, she was well organized and prepared to side-step and answer questions with ease.
Mock closed out her ‘It Gets Better’ video with a message to struggling Transgender youth. “I know that you can live the life of your dreams as well. I promise that it gets better.” Mock asserted.