March 8, 2015 – International Working Women’s Day, Oakland, CA.
On this 105th Anniversary of International Working Women’s Day, churches, faith communities, and people of faith stand together, joining in the remembrance and celebration of the legacies and lives of women and Transgender women.
We remember and celebrate the women who have gone before us. We remember and celebrate with all who continue the struggle for jobs that provide living wages, quality housing and an end to foreclosures, quality healthcare which includes access to free preventative healthcare, and rights to education. We remember and celebrate the women who have provided us firm ground from which to resist violence in all forms. And we remember and celebrate the women who continue to nurture the fertile ground from which future generations rise.
We remember and celebrate because the lives of women and, especially, trans women, are always at risk. They continue to be unsafe in their homes, in their neighborhoods, and in their workplaces. Since the beginning of 2015, we have lost the lives of seven trans women in this country alone: Lamia Beard in Virginia, Tyra Underwood in Texas, Yasmin Vash Payne and Taja Gabrielle DeJesus in California, Penny Proud in Louisiana, Bri Golec in Ohio, and Kristina Gomez Reinwald in Florida.
The lives of seven trans women have been taken from us on the soil of this country. And with them, we lift up the name of Jennifer Laude, the Filipina trans woman who was killed at the hands of a US Marine in the city of Olongapo in the Philippines; killed because of the US military presence that has been imposed on the people of the Philippines in unequal agreements that threaten the sovereignty of the people and threaten human rights there.
We, in the US, need to repent for the various ways we have failed to stop the systems perpetuated by our government and justice system that allow such violence to exist. We, in the US, need to repent for the ways we have failed to protect the invaluable lives of Trans women and women worldwide, and especially in the ways we have initiated the violence.
For people of faith, remembrance is not a passive act. For people of faith, remembrance opens the doors towards change and transformation. To remember and to celebrate Trans women – for whom the very proclamation of who they are is a threat to patriarchal mindsets and systems – is to resist those systems that seek to capitalize off of the bent backs and sacrifices of the bodies of women and Trans women all over the world. Every day that passes without our Trans women beloveds is a loss to the entire community. We will continue to grieve, but in our remembering we will work together to turn the grieving into the joyous collective struggle for liberation, having faith that death and hatred will never have the last word.
We—people of faith, churches, and faith communities—refuse to forget Trans women, we refuse to stop lifting our voices, we refuse to keep silent, and we refuse to withhold our solidarity and presence with Trans women any longer. We will do all we can to stop allowing Trans women to die at the hands of oppressions that so often target Trans women in ways that devalue their bodies, their spirits, and their lives.
We join in with the calls of grassroots community organizations in the demands for accountability and justice for Jennifer Laude’s life, lost to US militarization; we demand that US Marine PFC Pemberton be turned over to the Philippine authorities; we demand that the Visiting Forces Agreement be terminated for being an unequal pact with legal failings; and we demand that the lives of Transgender People be protected and valued, including the passing of Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination legislation that protects Transgender people in the Philippines and in the United States.
NEFFCON – National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns, Northern California Chapter
NRJ – Network for Religion and Justice for API LGBTQ People
CLGS – The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry