Since its San Francisco origins in 1998 as a candle light vigil to mark the murder of Rita Hester, TDOR has grown into an international event, which commemorates the lives of trans people who have passed not just as a result of murder, but for a variety of reasons related to their gender difference.
The event gives us a chance to remember those people that had the strength to do things because of who they wanted to be. Usually these people are from a foreign country and often unknown. But this year, at this time, many of us will be remembering three such people from the UK. Lucy Meadows, Sara Flowers and Chrisie Edkins. While others here tonight will speak of Lucy, I’ve been invited to reflect on Chrisie. Anyone who knew Chrisie, knows that no-one could speak on her behalf, and even now, her family and close friends still struggle to express the loss that they’re feeling on a daily basis. So instead, I thought I would share three thoughts from Chrisie herself, that she prepared prior to her passing, which I think represent the woman and why we’ve gathered tonight.
The first is called respect
“……we often talk of the campaign for equality and diversity, but in a sad way, it seems to me that we already have this. Why would I say that though ? Simply because if you look in the media for coverage of trans people, you will see examples of discrimination, misunderstanding, prejudice and to be fair, sometimes celebration. All of which have parallels with other minority groups within society. We actually need to raise the standard of this equality for all groups and it seems to me that perhaps we’re actually campaigning for a more fundamental principle which my parents instilled in me from a very early age. I’m talking about respect. Showing respect is an old fashioned human behaviour which we’ve forgotten and should return to. For me, although its sad we need it, the real benefit of equal rights legislation, is that it encourages the practice of this respect, by making it illegal to prejudice or bully……”
The next was taken from an article called me
“….. I’ve never been able to understand attacks against trans people, either from inside or out. I was taught to believe a persons true character, values and behaviour is made up of so many qualities ranging from education, job, hobbies, friends, upbringing, that by the time you consider their gender, either past or present, its probably such a small piece of the jigsaw that its probably irrelevant…..”
Finally, I thought I’d end with something from chrisie talking about the inspiration for her songwriting
“……a friend told me of a quote from the NoH8 campaign which I’m hoping to work into a song. It simply says…..Giving people equal rights or respect does not take rights away from you. It just makes it illegal for you to force your prejudice on, or bully them. I like that……”
Chrisie was an extraordinary talent as a musician and a songwriter. Her passing has been a tragic loss for her family and friends as well as our community. Tdor 2014 has been a year that has touched me personally for the loss of Lucy, Sara and Chrisie and although its my sincere hope in the future we wont need such an event, its touching to know that if we do, we can come together in commemoration and support for each other.
Love and Strength