November 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a time to honor those who have lost their lives to acts of transgender violence. According to research by the Transgender Law Center, at least 139 people have been killed in the last six years as a direct result of that violence, making the United States the third most dangerous country for transgender people to call home.
Sure, we can turn off the news and pretend these atrocities aren’t taking place, but a blind eye not only fails to address the issue — it could actually exacerbate it. Eventually, we’ll feel compelled to share our opinions about the issue and, because we’ve chosen to remain ill-informed (yes, it’s a choice), we find ourselves parroting the thoughts of others or oversimplifying a very complex problem.
I recently shared a post on LinkedIn about the pressure we feel to pick a side in situations about which we’re largely uneducated.
The words shared are in response to conversations about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but the main point is universal: we have to be aware. We need to hold ourselves, and each other, accountable for learning more about an issue before forming our opinion. Even further, we must remember the lives involved before taking a hard-lined stance for one side over another.
Ultimately, we have to acknowledge that issues of diversity and equity don’t happen in a vacuum. When prejudice-motivated crimes and racial conflict take place (even halfway around the world), we’re all impacted. Where hate is given room to burn, it will consume whole communities, leaving even more dissension and unrest in its wake. We have to get our heads out of the sand, otherwise our denial (or worse, our apathy) will only fan the flames.