The world is a damn scary and unfriendly place when you’re queer sometimes. I couldn’t even come home from a candlelight vigil for trans women who were murdered without being attacked myself.
But my thoughts of that day mostly turned towards recalling the first time I remember hearing about the death of a girl like me. I remember reading this exact article in the print magazine when it came out (WARNING: The article itself is full of gross loaded exploitative language and consistent misgendering). I remember it feeling like a kick in the face. I don’t recall ever actually meeting Lauryn (but in those days who could tell), but like myself she was a trans woman who also performed drag for income and we frequented the same clubs as I so this seemed to happen right in my back yard.
As a college educated white girl that wound up jumping right into a decent paying job in the tech center during a boom in the industry at the time of reading, I didn’t pretend to understand the experience of homelessness or other social pressures that far too many of my sisters face; but the sheer brutality of what occurred really drove home the sort of actual seething hatred that people reserve for women like me.
And it’s like, the poor girl was EIGHTEEN. She’d barely had time to live her life and it had already been so hard before it was over. I was only a couple years older myself, and I couldn’t help thinking how this could have easily been a friend of mine.
Hell this could have been myself as many times as I used to let army dudes take me from the infamous Krosover Club in Harker Heights back to their barracks on Ft.Hood in the middle of the night around the same time period. We’ve all been young and incredibly stupid, which makes it hurt all the more to see stories of those that didn’t make it out of that phase.
Reading that story again after over a decade, the language is appalling. Being reminded that this is how the straight world sees us. Even in youth, even in death as something to gawk at in scandalized rhetoric. The headline might as well have been TEENAGE TR*NNY SLAIN EXPOSING AUSTIN’S FABULOUS GAY UNDERBELLY. It’s practically an extended press release promo of The Forum’s drag night with a murder of a young trans woman thrown in for panache.
It reminds me of how shitty the dialog about us was in the late 90s, despite nostalgic insistence of the “progressiveness” of it all. Not like it’s particularly improved; not like there aren’t so many folks that treat intersecting with us as a bolster of cool points like: look at how progressive and with-it I am to humor this THING.
And it’s like, I don’t want to know her “real” name; I wanna hear her real story. It’s been a real shock to the system to see both how far we have and haven’t come. RIP Lauryn.