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Remembering Connie Norman

Posted by libhom Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance (Described by Gender.org):

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgendered — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgendered people.

We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred based violence, especially since the events of September 11th. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. This trend shows no sign of abating.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgendered people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgendered people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.

Today, I can't help but remember the transgender person who most affected me and my views of life and the world, Connie Norman. She was an incredible AIDS and queer activist who died in 1996 of AIDS. Some might not think of an AIDS death as one due to violence, by I disagree with that view. Our society has sabotaged HIV prevention, provided insufficient care, and done far too little research to find a cure. All of these things may seem passive, but they have proved to be as deadly as knives, guns, baseball bats, and other instruments of active violence. Our society's behavior has been motivated by homophobia and racism for sure. But, transphobia also has contributed to the sick sense among too many in America that people with AIDS are expendable.

Nobody is expendable.

Connie's obituary identified her in part as:
Sometimes called "the AIDS Diva," Norman championed reform of federal AIDS funding formulas, routine offering of HIV tests by medical providers, testing newborns for HIV and better treatment of those who have HIV or AIDS.

I remember her as "Momma Connie." She was constantly taking care of young activists at demos, and she always had so much to teach to anyone who wanted to learn.

I learned how to lead chants at demos from her. I learned how to express anger in public settings in ways that make it difficult for people to dismiss or ignore you. Most of all, I learned that no matter how righteous an activist's anger is, that anger is based on love. We can never forget that we are motivated most of all by love for people who aren't treated fairly or humanely in this world.

Thank you Connie!

I miss you!


  1. Thank for this post dear godless libhom. You got more heart than a hundred preachers put together. This is an excellent post. Thank you ! - oh i truly love Dennis, but i gotta tell ya. If my vote for Obama could save us from Hillary aka enemy of the lgbt - i would happily cast it for HIM. Imagine , america's first black president..what a thrilling thought. Anyhow - happy T. day - my modem took a powder yesterday and magically reappeared today.

    I am grateful to have made the connections we all made in recent months , we got quite a nifty dialog going. (nifty , i am dating myself) anyhow - we are in for the long haul and our numbers are legion !

  2. Julio Pop Says:
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