Freedom News

Rage & Remembrance – TDoR ’22

They had names and so do we

When Daniel Davis Aston went to work on Saturday night of the November 19th at Club Q – the only queer club in Colorado Springs – he had no idea that within hours he would be dead, he would be dead-named, and he would be erased. For whilst most of the rest of the world was holding Trans Day of Remembrance vigils or preparing for them, the clock was still ticking towards midnight, when a man wearing body armour started shooting up Club Q for reasons as yet unclear.

For the trans & non-binary across the world, the very idea that trans people were murdered on the day we remember our murdered siblings is not ironic but horrific. And whilst the media, politicians, and commentators began jumping to conclusions about why this bar in particular had been targetted – the trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming communities were reaching out across the planet to hold each other in a profound and tender transnational embrace.

Whatever you have read, the speculations drawn, the assumptions made, we still know little about why that man went to Club Q. It is true is was a bar that regularly hosts drags night and indeed one of the murdered men, who co-owned the bar, regularly dragged up himself. It is known that one of the people who took down the shooter was an ex-military veteran. And it is known that other person who took down the shooter was an anonymous trans woman who bashed the assailant armed only with a pair of shoes.

But what we also known is that most of the narrative in the public domain is based on the testimony of the army vet, a cis het man, who in his ignorance misidentified the other responder as a drag queen. Only days afterwards did other voices break through media speculation to assert that she is a trans woman. We also know that fuelled by this narrative in context of an all out assault by many states in the so-called usa – a common consensus developed that the bar was targetted because it hosted drag shows.

The Admiral Duncan was bombed on 30.04.99. By neo-nazi David Copeland. He chose the Admiral Duncan because it was the first pub on the listing by Gay Times magazine. Three people died and 83 people were injured because they drank in bar whose name began with an A. Club Q is the only queer club in Colorado Springs. There are many reasons why the shooter may have picked that bar, but it is entirely possible that it is because it is the only LGBTQI club in town.

Multiple peer reviewed studies have shown that homophobia in cis men is directly related to the degree of sexual attraction they feel towards other men. And indeed its almost a trope that the more virulent the homophobia from a preacher or politician – the more likely he will be caught later having sex with rent boys, choir boys or trawling the nights on Grindr.
As trans and non-binary people have not had a fixed affirmed identity in large enough numbers, we don’t yet know if these kinds of correlations play in part in the psyche of transphobia. But I can’t not wonder.

Meanwhile I note with no surprise that Keir Starmer did not ‘take a knee’ or its equivalent to show solidarity with the trans community on this, one its darkest hours. Nor am I surprised that the Guardian has engaged in more of its abusive reporting of the tragedy. For three days The Guardian failed to mention trans people at all in its reportage. It erased Daniel Davis Aston and Kelly Loving, and instead continues to dead-name the trans woman who bravely stood up and fought back with her shoes.

I genuinely don’t understand how a newspaper like the guardian which prides itself on its commitment to justice and equality would dead name someone who saved multiple lives rather acknowledge that this anonymous trans woman needs praise not abuse and erasure. Indeed in mainstream media after the attacks – there has been a concerted effort to erase not only that woman who fought back but also that 2 of the 5 people who died were trans people. The focus on drag which has become a lightening rod in the so-called usa for attacks on queer people comes after several years of outright hostility to the trans community. To find main news sites linking the murders of queer people to anti-drag laws and policies is heartening because at least a connection is being made. But in the process the state sponsored transphobia operating in the so-called usa and over here in the uk means the fact trans people died has being pushed off the news agenda.

Keir Starmer recently asserted that he and his labour party opposed ‘men playing in women’s sports’, that he would oppose teenagers receiving information or medical interventions for trans teenagers without their parents permission and was dismissive of the concept of trans children. For a once feted human rights lawyer – he has now aligned the labour party as allies of the Tory party in forthcoming reviews of the equality act and self-ID. Sadly he is not alone.

Outside of Scotland, all the main political parties are either openly transphobic or their party has been riven with unresolved infighting over trans women. Even in Scotland where Nicola Sturgeon is be praised for her forthright support of trans people, the proposals that the SNP voted on led to 7 members of the SNP government breaking the whip.

In short, for those of you who (still) have some talismanic faith in voting there is no party in england and only a few parties in wales, scotland, or the occupied six counties who are anything but apologist for or proponents of state sponsored transphobia.

This also has knock on effects for how trans activism operates. As I have said before the Stonewall model is completely broken. For whilst Stonewall itself has been a beacon of support in the face of concerted transphobia by media & politics, the raison d’etre of Stonewall is to lobby parliament for legal and policy change. And much of the trans community has taken this as their modus operandi. But if the government is committed to gutting the equality act and attacking the trans community whilst the labour and lib dem opposition play side kicks to the broadside against the trans and non-binary communities – what exactly are all those pointless & downing street petitions for – and who exactly are we supposed to be writing too?

Whilst Rosie Duffield keeps the PLP whip even after saying at the LGB alliance (hate group) conference that she would refuse to correctly gender Eddie Izzard should Eddie be elected to parliament – I see no reason why any trans person of any age should put their vote in Labour’s box.

What Colorado springs teaches us that we have to do it for ourselves. At the Orlando Pulse night club killings, the police waited outside for two hours before going in. 49 people died and 53 were injured. In Colorado springs 5 people died and the shooter was overpowered by a middle aged man and a trans woman.

What the trans community in the UK need to do now is to stop looking to parliaments for its saviours and start looking to ourselves. We are stronger than anyone gives us credit for. Many trans and non-binary elders – like me – cut our teeth in queer, BDSM, AIDS, animal rights, anti-fascist, squatting and mutual aids activism in the 70s, 80s, 90s when there was no internet – just us.

Older trans people may be less visible but we are survivors from a different era. We understand what it is to live through an era when the state let our brothers die in their thousands. And what the AIDS crisis taught us is that we look after each other better than the state.

We need more intergenerational activist networks. More mutual aid networks. More practical guides & information systems. And we need to learn from the climate movement. The scientists and activists spent 50 years believing that if only they set out the clear facts – the politicians would respond correctly. At Sharm El Sheik we saw the unvarnished truth. Politicians and oil & gas lobbyists will do nothing about global carbon emissions even when they have all the data in front of them.

This lesson must be engraved on the hearts of trans and non-binary community. We may have the science, the lived experiences, be model minorities, and write the best letters – but when it comes to our community, our security and our future – politicians, parliaments, letters, & petitions have got us almost nothing.

After this years Transgender Day of Remembrance – I say enough! There will be no more concerns about not rocking the boat. Bring on the rage!

Rest in power

Raymond Green Vance, 22
Daniel Davis Aston, 28
Ashley Paugh, 35
Derrick Rump, 38
Kelly Loving, 40

kell w farshéa is a nonbinary intersex trans woman; an anarchist for over 42 years. They are they.

Image: Guy Smallman

Discover more from Freedom News

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading