I am ashamed of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people right now. We've had a great tragedy in our community, and few of us have reacted with even an ounce of the effort we have put into the fight for marriage equality.
Attendance continues to grow, including that of elected leaders. The U.S. Secretary of State himself, John Kerry, issued a statement today. That the trans community has reached that level of political importance is noteworthy, and this increase in importance and exposure feeds on itself.
What happened to Islan Nettles is neither unique nor remarkable. Too often, this is what happens when someone dies at the hands of anti-transgender violence. Victims are forgotten, perpetrators are let free, and the world moves on as though nothing happened.
We celebrate that we are a resilient people, we are a resilient community, we care for one another, we advocate for one another, and we continue to rise up, to live our lives in dignity and truth, and to bring about change in our society.
As much as Transgender Day of Remembrance is a time for memorializing those who have died, this day, this week, this month, this year, this lifetime and beyond need to be committed to ensuring the safety of all who place footprints on the Earth.
Though those who were killed in transphobic acts of violence in the past year may not have been known to us personally, many of us hold their memories in our minds and hearts as fallen brothers and sisters, so the recitation of the Kaddish seems especially fitting.
It occurs in a month full of and surrounded by relevant observances and seasons: All Saints and All Souls, when we remember the dead; Thanksgiving, when we express gratitude; Advent, when some of us anticipate Word-made-flesh.
In the face of pervasive discrimination, harassment, and violence, Transgender Day of Remembrance is a way for us to show that trans lives are valuable. It is this perceived lack of value that underpins so many of the challenges that those of us in the transgender community face.
Today only two of my 13 closest sisters are alive. I close my eyes and see them standing next to me on the street, proud of who they are and never ashamed of their identity. I applaud my fallen sisters for showing me the way with the grace of God.
Universal human rights are not available à la carte: No one gets to pick and choose who deserves rights and who doesn't. Either everyone has them or they cannot be considered universal. For far too many trans people, the struggle for basic rights has become a matter of life and death.
Since Rita Hester's murder, hundreds of others have been murdered. This year more than 200 people have died at the hand of anti-transgender violence. Every two weeks, on average, someone is murdered in the United States in an act of anti-transgender violence.
In preparation for Transgender Day of Remembrance, those who celebrate and survive may draw from ancient traditions of world cultures that meditate on death as a way that the living can not only mourn but embrace a deeper gratitude for life itself -- both the lives of those lost and our own.
I did this for the first time last year. The 20-odd transgender deaths that passed my desk during 2012 were compiled into a post presenting the victims' names and how they died in order to convey the importance of observing the Transgender Day of Remembrance. I'm doing it again for 2013.
All Saints' Day also marks the first day of Transgender Awareness Month, with its own equivalent annual vigil, the International Transgender Day of Remembrance to commemorate those slain in anti-transgender hate crimes.