When people ask me about our family’s transition, I always share that I never mourned the loss of a son, because I never had a son. But I did grieve—and continue to grieve—the loss of a certain kind of privilege. The loss of my sense of safety. The loss of my peace of mind because of the exponentially higher chance that my sweet, kind, innocent, playful little girl could one day be victimized simply for being who she is. The loss of feeling insulated from people so deeply bigoted and hateful that they would kill a person—any person—because they are living the life they were born to live.
As the parent of a transgender child, I can’t go back to the days before I knew the depth of the hatred. For example, during the last legislative session, that face of hate revealed itself in a very painful way for the transgender community in Texas. We got through by connecting with our transgender family. I can’t tell you how often I found myself holding and hugging and talking with the many trans adults, children, families, and allies who were living through the grief with me.
When I received the news earlier this month that a trans Latina woman in Dallas was murdered, my heart sank, and I immediately felt sick. Even though I did not know her personally, she is one of the many Texans that I am fighting for, a member of our extended transgender family. A few days later I spent Mother’s Day at the vigil for Carla Patricia Flores Pavon. I was heartbroken but more so, I was angry. So angry that this was happening, that I sat watching the family of this young, beautiful soul, mourn the loss of their loved one.
Then last Tuesday I received a call shortly after the Dallas Police Department released the news that the body of yet another trans woman of color had been discovered in a creek a few days prior. A creek that I know well, that my family knows well. She still hadn’t been identified. We now know, over a week after her discovery, she is Nicole Hall, Dallasite and pioneer in the Texas Black Trans Community.
Two transgender women of color dead in a matter of days, just minutes from our home. As I attempted to sort through some of the information with one of my close friends on the phone Wednesday morning, an article popped up on my computer; it was yet another death. Nino Forston, a black transgender man shot on the street in Atlanta. My friend on the phone knew him.
I have spent the last weeks with a constant tear in my eye, unsure of how to move forward, how to support my loved ones, my community, my family, and terrified for the safety of so very many whom I hold dear, including my own daughter. Trying to maintain enough composure to move through life as normal for my children, to push forward and fight back against the hatred and bigotry. To be honest, I haven’t figured it out yet, and I’m not sure I ever will.
But I know this. It means more to me than ever to face my fears. To all of my transgender family, I see you. I love you. My heart and soul are in this fight with you. I will amplify your voices anywhere I can and carry them for you when you need to step back. When you fight discrimination in this state, I will fight with you. For my daughter. For my trans family. For Nino and Carla and Nicole. For those whose names we may never know. No matter my grief, I will continue to fight relentlessly for your protection and equal treatment.
Rachel Gonzales is the education and resource coordinator for Equality Texas.