Dove Standley: Thoughts on resilience, authenticity, neighbors and support

Published 10:31 am Sunday, November 19, 2023

Dove StandleyOn Nov. 20 every year, we observe Transgender Day of Remembrance. The week preceding is Transgender Awareness Week. I feel now is an appropriate time to share my thoughts on what this occasion means to me as a trans woman, and how my local community can take this time to listen and learn.

To some, the transgender community is a thing to dismiss as small and insignificant and only refer to when trying to stoke the fears of those who don’t understand us. But unless you would similarly dismiss the entire population of 8 of this country’s states, the 1.3 million adults in America who identify as transgender is not an insignificant portion of the American population.

This annual observance is a somber moment as we reflect on the numerous lives lost in the Trans and Non-binary community over the last year. But it is also a moment to remind ourselves of our resilience as a community.

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Our communities, our histories, our hard won support systems, and the very acceptance of the legitimacy of our existence are regularly under attack. In the US, 142 bills to restrict transgender access to gender affirming care were introduced in 2023. Out of that number, 22 of them passed. Only nine have failed or been vetoed. These bills also come with an avalanche of political rhetoric that vilifies us as a threat to the local community, children, and the “natural order.” 

That rhetoric has an impact, and often stokes an anger and fear among those who don’t understand us. Those emotions can and do drive some to respond in violence against us.

This year the Human Rights Campaign is reporting at least 25 transgender and gender non-conforming individuals whose lives were lost by violent means. This number does not reflect the far larger numbers of those lost due to medical mismanagement, poverty, or suicide.

But this time is not only one of remembrance. It is also a reminder of our resilience. This year I was relieved to see that for the third year in a row, the number of names we will read out during our annual Transgender Day of Remembrance service will be fewer than the last. In the face of the violence directed towards our community, we continue to persist. We continue to insist that our existence, validity, and right to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives is not up for debate or compromise. We know who we truly are, and we know what lengths we will go to to truly be our authentic selves.

If you currently harbor malice towards us, I say this:

We are not an enemy. We are not a threat. We are your neighbors, your family, and your friends. We bleed when cut, and painfully mourn our lost. We hope you and our communities will instead see the good we bring to the world, rather than focus on the fears stoked by misunderstanding.

If you are an ally working to support us:

We thank you for your support and hope we can rely on you to help us protect our right to an authentic life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

And to my fellow transgender community members:

We mourn those we lost, we seek support from one another, and we resolve to never be broken. Farmville Pride is an inclusive group for the Heart of Virginia’s LGBTQ+ community and allies.

Farmville Pride works to create spaces to support LGBTQ+ people in Farmville and the surrounding area.

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, or at www.FarmvillePride.com

Dove Standley is the Board Chair for the Farmville Pride Board of Directors. She can be contacted at Dove@FarmvillePride.com.