(Cross post from a blog I did for a class on LGBTQ oppression)
I’ve been avoiding writing about Agnes Torres Sulca for almost a month now. For those of you who don’t know, Agnes Torres was a Trans* activist in Puebla, Mexico who was found murdered on March 10. Her Twitter account is active until the day of her disappearance, with a link to an interview she did being the final post. Agnes was a psychologist, an activist, and an academic. She was one of the most prominent advocates for Queer people in Mexico, and Mexican authorities went from writing off her death as a crime of passion to stating that the motive behind her murder was the theft of her car, not hatred, not transphobia.
[Agnes Torres Sulca, a brown Mexican Transwoman with curly dark brown hair]
I didn’t want to write about this because I didn’t want to add to the perception that Trans* people, especially Trans* women, are all victims. I didn’t want to add to that narrative and that perspective, especially if other Trans* people are going to internalize it. There’s a strong belief that to be Trans* is to be completely powerless, to be dependent on some cisperson for support through our lives, and that’s shown in just about every representation of a Trans* person that I can think of. Every movie, almost every book, I think with the exception of Leslie Feinberg’s “Drag King Dreams”, has us crying to and leaning on some tolerant cisperson who sits by and listens.
The fact is that Trans* people are being killed and no one seems to care. We’re being killed directly, through knives and guns and fists, and we’re being killed indirectly, by being denied houses, medical care, and jobs. And sadly, that’s never far from my mind. The fact that almost half the names I read in online obituaries are Latin@ names, that half the bodies and faces shown during Trans* Day of Remembrance belong to someone who looks like me doesn’t help. And their ages, nineteen, twenty-three, twenty-five, twenty-eight, only add to the weight in my chest. It doesn’t look like people like me make it to thirty.
So here is the point at which, you, cispeople, are supposed to start doing something. One of our assignments in Peers for Pride was to interview people on being what being a good ally means, and I received several responses that were simply “Being there for my friend to talk to”. Let me make this abundantly clear: that is not being an ally, that merely is being a decent friend. If you want to be an ally to Trans* people, if you consider yourself an ally to Trans* people you’re going to have to start doing more than the bare minimum, because for us it comes down to a matter of life and death. You need to create spaces for us, to begin with. You need to give us a part in communities and in families. This is the first step. Trans* people need places to organize and places to create.
Those of you who organize, on any level, need to realize that Trans* people are not some abstraction, not some target population for another group or social worker, we are part of your community! We share your struggles against racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and we need voices in those spaces and those movements. And we need you to start using your voices to help us. We are strong, we are capable, but we are few and we are scattered, we need as much help with our struggle as we can get.
And to Trans* people: we need to unite. There is no other option. We need to fight for and work for one another, we need to work on loving one another, because without that we are simply a group of people who share marginalizations and medical histories. It is my sincere belief that Trans* people, all Trans* people, have a responsibility to create a Trans* community and to do everything they can to advance this community, because failure to do so will result in more deaths, more violence, and less hope.
And neither cispeople nor Trans*people should be allowed to forget those who have passed on. They are more than faces to be gawked at during a memorial service, or names to be read in a litany at Day of Remembrance, they are a part of our family, they were sisters, brothers, siblings, lovers, and they deserve at the very least the justice that every human being deserves. Never let us forget that, and never let us forget them.
[Black and white picture of Agnes Torres Sulca with her looking off-frame. The slogan “Justice for Agnes Toress Sulca!” is printed on the side]