A Trans Woman Calls On Her Sisters To Act In Support Of Missing And Murdered Aboriginal Women
By Cindy Bourgeois
Wednesday February 13, 2013
My Dear Sisters,
I am writing you today in solidarity with Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Since the 1970’s over 800 Aboriginal women have been murdered and disappeared, an alarmingly inordinate number of crimes. The response from the Canadian authorities has been a travesty. Way too many of these crimes have gone unprosecuted.
We should all be outraged.
We should all be outraged at the loss of daughters, mothers and aunties. We should all be outraged at the ongoing genocide of the First Peoples of Turtle Island, especially of our Aboriginal sisters.
I believe that as trans women we have particular reasons to be outraged…and to empathize. We know what it is to face discrimination. Granted, the discriminations we face are not identical but we know the psychic damage it causes to be sexualized and fetishized by the broader culture. We know, especially my Aboriginal trans sisters and trans sisters of colour, what it is to be deemed disposable by society. We know, especially my Aboriginal trans sisters and trans sisters of colour, what it is to be considered less than human.
When we live in a world where this kind of violence is wreaked upon our Aboriginal sisters (trans and non-trans), what conclusion can we reach but that we consider them to be less than human? This violence that is perpetrated affects their actual humanity. More than that, I think this violence affects all our humanity.
Our shared humanity is crucial here. Nobody can be fully human while this violence continues. It affects all of us. Martin Luther King Jr. described this well when he said, “All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
King is lifting up our shared humanity. My actions don’t just have consequences for me and those with whom I come into daily contact. My actions affect everybody. The violence being perpetrated on our Aboriginal sisters affects me; it prevents me from being fully human. And the only way for me to increase my humanity in this respect is to take action. And I owe this to all my Aboriginal sisters both trans and non-trans. As trans activist erica ascendant, writer of the blog inchoaterica, says, “we all deserve nothing less than equality, safety, and to be valued for the treasures we all are.”
So I must take action.
That is why I am so grateful to Black Coffee Poet for giving me this opportunity. This is an opportunity to take action. It is a small thing but it is something. I try to do the best that I can. I educate myself on Aboriginal realities. In my role as a Minister in the United Church of Canada I preach regularly on the oppression of the First Peoples of Turtle Island while confessing our participation in genocide, especially through Indian Residential Schools. I acknowledge colonialism and I acknowledge my settler status. I speak up against racism. I try to engage Aboriginal folks where they are, especially those who have borne the brunt of colonialism.
If it sounds like I am great person, I’m not. I just try to be an ally. I try to do what I can to take action.
I urge you to take action. It can be anything. You can attend a rally in support of the murdered and missing Aboriginal women. A list of rallies can be found here: womensmemorialmarch. You can write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper demanding an inquiry. You can call someone on their racism.
Any action is good. We cannot stand by and let this continue. There is too much at stake. For you, for me, and especially for our Aboriginal sisters.
Cindy Bourgeois is the first known out and proud trans person to be ordained to ministry by a mainline Christian denomination in Canada.