TW: trans murders, trans violence, and this is not an optimistic post, this is me processing publicly
I mostly do not know what to write about Brandi’s murder other than that I am deeply disturbed by the lack of reaction and passivity of many of the people around me. Obviously the mainstream news is not going to report on this without a fucking uproar. Obviously the paramedics did not arrive on the scene until she had been dead for twenty minutes in the lap of an #OO medic. Obviously the institutions that consistently support and uplift the lifes of straight, cis, and white people would be silent on her death. But I am generally appalled by the lack of response and apparent lack of mourning on the behalf of so many people in my life. I am the only trans person who lives in my house, and I feel lucky that last night enough friends were over/staying with us that I was able to sit on my front porch with three other lovely trans folk and cry, and talk clearly and plainly about how much we hate cis people, how we are afraid of being able to survive, how there are no safe spaces for us — not even in our own bodies. I am becoming disallusioned with spending time with any cis people at all, because even when I think that they might “get” me, there are times when the only way I can feel any shreds of safety is to be only with other trans folks, preferably trans folks of color. I wish I had been at her memorial last night, but my friend’s check-in about their time at the memoria/vigil makes it sound like it was dominated by screaming white cis bros (gay and straight) who didn’t know Brandi at all.
I am devastated, I am mourning, I am not surprised. I am violently angry. I am terrified. Brandi was murdered blocks from where my partner and friends live. But it’s like, of course that terrifies us and of course that unsettles us from any small pieces of safety we may have begun to feel, but this happens everywhere. So are we just supposed to be terrified all the fucking time?
On Thursday night I was at an event in South Berkeley (2 blocks from the Oakland — Berkeley border) that was billed as an “intergenerational queer event” where older white cis lesbians — sparked by a question regarding the inclusion of trans women in women’s spaces — talked about how trans women and trans men (they had no scope of non-binary trans folks) are disgusting, repugnant, vile, hidden rapists. It was every tumblr radscum shouting match but in real life. I had a panic attack, almost vomited, and ran outside to chainsmoke and scream and all I could think of were the murders (and “suicides”) of trans women of color.
About fifteen minutes and four cigarettes later, an elderly white cis woman from our event walked outside, attempted to cross the street and was struck by a car. It was terrible, and gruesome. I am in no way diminishing this. I am not trying to connect the actions of the radscum at the event with this woman, because I have no idea who she is or what her politics are. I was deeply disturbed by the event and prayed for that woman and that she would survive. I watched her get struck by the car, ran to the corner, and stood around while every person around called 911 (my phone was dead or I would have called, too). Within literally no longer than two minutes there were three ambulances, a fire truck, and police from both Oakland and Berkeley on scene. Lots of police. Everyone was freaked out. I heard talks of people from our event wondering if the news was going to show up. Like, queer folks were actually genuinely hoping/curious that it would get written up in the papers, to hopefully “prevent” cars from speeding down Shattuck and hitting another person.
Two days later, when I am trying to figure out how to deal with the aftermath of the event (it was organized by the non-profit I work for) a trans woman is shot and dies in Downtown Oakland, in the arms of an #OO medic, blocks from the fire station and the police station, after police walked away from her. I cannot stop processing these two events in tandem with each other. It is impossible for me to think about Brandi’s murder and not think about the reaction of the people in my house when we found out, the reaction of the queers on the street when that cis woman was hit by a car, the reaction of people when they heard the radscum talk about being disgusted by trans folks, and the institutional response on the behalf of paramedics and police in both occasions. I mean obviously, fuck the police, burn every cop… car, destroy every prison. I am not surprised it happened this way. I am just so jarred by the close proximity of these events in my life, am freaked out by having cis people in my life, and don’t know what to do next.
How are my partner or my friends supposed to feel safe in the places they live when feeling safe in our own bodies is such a fucking battle? How are we supposed to feel like any form of queer safe space exists, when so quickly we are told at “LGBTQI” events that we are the scum and “cis allies” just sort of hang around not saying anything? Like, really, how am I supposed to feel like having cis people in my life is something I want to try to do, at all, in any capacity? How are we to figure out strategies to survive/fight back/mourn/continue existing when so many people really just do not give a shit whether or not we are alive tomorrow?
Really, fuck everyone, die cis scum.
Rest in Power, Brandi.