Books, Covers, Bodies, and Clothes

In spite of the ubiquity of the old adage about not judging books by their covers, too many people continue to see and assess the world and its infinitely diverse inhabitants as mere surfaces.  This shallow means of perception lies at the source of bigotry and prejudice, racism and sexism, homophobia and transphobia.  While many historically minoritized groups have gained greater access to equal rights and social justice, the transgender community continues to face steady and often fatal discrimination.

In Shakespeare’s ten plays containing transvestism, a character’s assumption of the identity of the opposite sex generally ends peacefully, with conventional sex-gender distinctions reaffirmed; conversely, in real life, a person’s cross-dressing as or transitioning to the opposite sex too often elicits bullying or ends tragically.  Statistics on transgender murder victims remain tenuous, the number of unidentified victims being just one reason for this.  Transgender.org lists 321 murders since 1970.  2010 murders have already reached double digits.

This coming Saturday, November 11th is International Transgender Day of Remembrance (ITDR), a day designated for memorializing those who have died as a result of anti-transgender acts of violence.  The origin of this special day dates back to the 1998 murder of transwoman Rita Hester. To honor Hester, author and activist Gwendolyn Smith founded the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and established an annual day of remembrance, which in time garnered international recognition and support in the way of ITDR.

If you live in the Fort Lauderdale, FL area and would like to show support for International Transgender Day of Awareness, go see Thinking Cap Theatre’s current production of S/HE by Nick Mwaluko.  There are only four performances left: 11/16, 11/17, 11/19, and 11/20 at 7pm at The Wine Cellar, 199 East Oakland Park Blvd.  The response from people within and without the community to this production has been powerful and uplifting.

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