If transgenderism is a postmodern quasi-religion, then today* is its most holy day
November 20th is TDoR, the Transgender Day of Remembrance. If transgenderism is a postmodern quasi-religion, then today is its most holy day. Across the country, people will huddle around lighted candles to remember people that they never knew. There will be solemn words and readings of lists of foreign names. Plymouth University even advertise an hour-long “Service”.
According to Transgender Europe, who maintain the Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide research project, 375 trans and gender-diverse people were reported murdered in the past year. Every murder is one tragedy too many, and my thoughts are with the families of these victims and the people who loved them. Some were children; reports from Brazil included the distressing case of Keron Ravach, who was only 13, and “just starting the process of gender transition” whatever that might mean. A young life ended, with the citation, “The killer had requested sexual services with the victim.”
But whilst we remember, what can we do to reduce the number of lives lost next year, and the year after? There are patterns in the data: prostitution, and poverty. Over half of murdered trans people whose occupation was known were sex workers. Transgender Europe identified “a worrying trend when it comes to the intersections of misogyny, racism, xenophobia and hate towards sex workers, with the majority of victims being Black and migrant trans women of colour, and trans sex workers”.
Maybe, if the world addressed those problems, it might be a safer place for everyone? While all these victims were identified to be trans, it is far less clear how many were murdered because they were trans. The majority were in Central and South America. A third were from Brazil alone.
Europe, on the other hand, is one of the safer parts of the world to be trans. In the last year only fourteen of us were murdered across the entire continent. Six were migrants; the overlap with poverty and powerlessness cannot be overlooked. Once again, there were no reported murders of trans people in the UK. While the overtones today are rightly sombre, the truth is that, since 2008, there have been only 11 recorded murders of trans people in Britain.
Meanwhile, according to Karen Ingala Smith’s Counting Dead Women Project, at least 122 UK women have been killed by men (or where a man is the principal suspect) so far in 2021. Most recently, Pauline Quinn, 73, was found dead in Nottinghamshire. Lawrence Bierton, 61, has been charged with her murder and robbery.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is next Thursday, but much less is said about it. The contrast is stark, as a Twitter search for the hastags #TDoR and #IDEVAW will show.
If we really cared for vulnerable groups we would be remembering women, as well as addressing poverty and stamping out the sex trade. But I fear that today is largely performative. How many people attend TDoR services and vigils to put pressure on governments to make Latin America a safer place for everyone? Or have they swallowed the assumption that trans people in the UK are in particular danger? While the data shows that we are safer than women, the message is insidious.
To the faithful this is heresy, and not just figuratively. We might live in a secular society, but we have the same basic needs as our ancestors. Without traditional religions in their lives, people have simply created new ones. Whatever this one is called — Gender Identity Ideology? Transgenderism? — it has its belief systems as well as its holy days.
The edifice rests on gender identity — an unobservable, unprovable and unfalsifiable inner essence, which determines whether we are men and women. Just like a religious soul, it sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom where biology still holds sway. The creed is well documented: transwomen are women, transmen are men and non-binary people are valid. There is also a priestly class, the trans and non-binary people with special knowledge that cannot be questioned, and which sets them apart from the rest of humanity. And services are held.
While many probably don’t believe it, rather fewer are willing to challenge it, nor speak out when their employer hands over tithes to Stonewall. Lip service is perhaps paid to secure an easy life? The brutal treatment of heretics and apostates is warning enough. The consequences can be severe: Kathleen Stock was hounded from her job.
The Holy Days are numerous, but each has meaning and purpose. TDoR is sombre and contemplative, rather like Good Friday. Just like Holy Week leads up to Good Friday, trans awareness week — 13 to 19 November — sets the context and tone for TDoR. If that was insufficient, the whole of November is designated as transgender awareness month.
Trans Day of Visibility on March 31st is a celebration — like Christmas, perhaps? — while saints’ days are sprinkled throughout the year: international asexuality day (6 April), agender pride day (19 May) and non-binary people’s day (14 July). Pronouns day is the third Wednesday in October, while Trans parent day is the first Sunday in November.
The list goes on. Pansexual and panromantic awareness day is 24 May, but there is a whole week in February devoted to Aromantic spectrum awareness. I don’t know why that is. I am transgender, but this system of faith and belief offers no benefit to me as I go about my life, in pretty much the same way as everyone else.
Maybe we would all be better off without these days that mark us out from the rest of society? Today is not about us, transgender people in the UK, and we certainly do not need any religious symbolism to remember some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Children like Keron, for example. We can debate whether they are oppressed because they are trans or whether they have been pimped into prostitution, living among violence, impoverished or fleeing their homeland. But they are human beings — like us — and that alone is reason to be mindful of them.
Debbie Hayton is a teacher and journalist.