Transgender Day of Remembrance and the Nature of Hate

candle in foreground, white flower behindFor the past 19 years, the transgender community has come together on November 20 to honor and mourn those brutally murdered for nothing more than their gender identity or expression. But the grief over this kind of tragedy should not be limited to the transgender community; the murder of innocents affects us all. Is there any group of people who have not, at some point in time, in some place, been discriminated against or attacked because they were different? We need to stop thinking of the International Transgender Day of Remembrance as “their” day—it is “our” day.

In 1624, John Donne published these words:

Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

It is a viewpoint whose adoption would vastly improve quality of life everywhere. But where does the hatred come from that would cause someone to kill? I don’t propose to answer a question that greater minds than mine have tackled. However, I do have some thoughts on the subject.

Biologically, we do have some wiring that makes us wary of the stranger, those who are not like us. This was, no doubt, important to the survival of early humans. However, there are many things that are biological that we have modified over time with our intellectually evolved brains. We work by the clock now, not the sun (possibly not an improvement); we eat with utensils and not our hands (most of the time); and we use tact and manners when interacting with others (again—most of the time).

It seems that there are some, however, who do not use their frontal cortex to guide their behavior. If someone or something makes them uncomfortable, they lash out with the primitive parts of their brains instead of letting higher thinking prevail.

This leads me to another of my theories. Anyone who has studied psychotherapy has learned about “triangling,” the act of diverting conflict between two parties by dragging in a third party. Most people have experienced it firsthand, as when two arguing friends drag them into the quarrel. Or when resolution of marital discord is avoided by focusing on a child’s poor grades.

Is it possible that those who persecute others do so to avoid dealing with their own personal issues? I think it’s likely. After all, it is not a question of fighting over much-needed resources in order to survive, as did our ancestors. There is enough to share if we cooperate.

Lastly, giving up hate requires change, and change is hard. Change requires time and effort. In some cases, it involves changing long-held beliefs. One of the most difficult things we can do as human beings is take a good look at ourselves and realize where there is room for improvement. How much easier it would be if everyone around us would do the changing!

How do we stop the hate and the violence? We cannot legislate people’s thoughts and attitudes, but we can legislate equal rights to represent our nation’s highest ideals. When states pass marriage-equality laws, when LGBT people are allowed to proudly serve in the military, and when no one can be fired from a job just for being gay, we acknowledge acceptance of our LGBT citizens—and their protection.

On a personal level, we can acknowledge that every time we oppose equal rights, for whatever reason, we are creating an atmosphere where hate can live. We need to take a note from John Donne, and be involved in mankind.

© Copyright 2013 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • dante

    November 20th, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    I don’t understand all of the hatred either. I would have never thought that someone else could decide to consciously take another life and yet we see this happening in every community every day. Are we too far gone? Is there a real way to make a difference and turn the world back into a kinder more gentle place? Has it ever really been that way at all?

  • Reed

    November 21st, 2013 at 5:51 AM

    What a very lovely thought that this doesn’t have to be their day of rememberance but ours. That is way to connect ourselves to people that we didn’t even know but in some way recognize that we are all one people, brothers and sisters in thsi often times confusing world, and that we should love each other just for that reason, and not express hate over something that we don’t know or understand.

  • jane f

    November 22nd, 2013 at 4:47 AM

    I have often heard this theory of the reason some people spew so much hatred onto another person or a group of people is because of their own insecurities and how they actually feel about themselves. I guess that in situations like this people who are harming others may have some questions about their own sexuality and are taking it out on those who are more comfortable with their own. It is absolutely no excuse for the behavior but I suppose if we are simply looking for answers and rationale this could be part of it. But getting someone to own up to this? Completely different problem, and dealing with that can’t be forced.

  • Lesley

    November 25th, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    i did not even know that this day of rememberance existed but i will say a special little prayer for those who have experienced such harm and shame for being themselves :(

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.