Letter to Jennifer Laude

This letter was written on October 17, 2014 in solidarity with the Global Day of Action. Jennifer Laude, a transgender Filipina woman who was brutally murdered on October 11, 2014 in Olongapo, Philippines. A United States Marine, identified as Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, is the prime suspect in the murder case.

Dear Sister,

We are the bakla, tomboy, genderqueers, bisexuals, lesbians and gays of Bayan PNW. We have spent the last six days remembering. Remembering whose bodies have always been on the line. Remembering whose lives are deemed expendable. Remembering how legacies of colonialism and imperialism have long dehumanized our people. Remembering what it’s like to be told you have no right to be who you are, no place for you in this world.

Jennifer, it is often easier to forget. It is easier to forget that trans women all over the world have been violated, beaten and killed because they dare to be themselves. Easier to not think about all the other ways that you have been treated as less than, other, a joke or a spectacle. Easier to not think that while we are learning about transphobia and transmisogyny, we have also been complicit in your oppression. By not centering your needs as we advocate for the rights and safety of our LGBT community, we have participated in rendering your daily struggle invisible.

This work starts with remembering.

We know there is a fight ahead of us. We know our calls for justice will be amplified by our comrades and allies, trans and cisgendered, Filipin@s and non-Filipin@s who believe that your life matters.

Each of us mourn this loss and the many things your life represents for us. We are grieving in the ways we know how. Some of us write press statements and essays. Some reach out to other queer people to feel connected. Some of us are building coalitions to support our calls for justice. Some are immobilized with rage and sorrow. Some are responding to the hateful ways your story is being portrayed. Some of us are thinking of ways to connect with your family and loved ones. All of us are honoring you.

We want to honor your life by remembering. Remembering so many others who continue to suffer from transphobia and hate violence. Remembering too many lives that have been taken by U.S. militarization in the Philippines. Remembering all those who have been harmed and dehumanized by systems of power and have not gotten the calls of justice they deserve. Remembering that our struggles are deeply connected. Remembering that all our people deserve to live with dignity.

We want to honor your life by taking action. We will be on the streets condemning U.S. occupation, in our communities connecting militarization and transphobic violence, creating space to grow and transform ourselves in this movement. We will let our voices carry across the Pacific until the Philippine and U.S. government recognize that your life matters, that a Filipino trans woman’s life is more than enough to galvanize our people and many others to demand justice and self-determination for you and for our people.

With love and solidarity,

Bayan PNW Queer Collective

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