Last year I attended my first Transgender Day of Remembrance. My teenage trans daughter had been out only six months, and no matter how much we loved, accepted, and supported her, there seemed to be so much hatred and pain lying in wait beyond our front door. Throughout the entire vigil I wept openly and profusely. So this year I had not planned to attend TDOR.
Today we memorialize and celebrate the lives of those transgender and gender-nonconforming persons who were murdered this past year simply because of their gender identities. We also honor the lives of trans people who ended their own lives because they just could not bear to go on in the face of the emotional and/or physical violence brought about by transphobia.
Being transgender isn't what is killing us. It is the culture we live in. It is a culture that teaches people that we aren't real men or women, one that reduces us to jokes intended to inspire visceral reactions of disgust. It is a culture that teaches people that such portrayals are not just acceptable but entirely justified. It is embedded in our culture that we have no value.
The queer saints gather to break bread together, to keep Sabbath, to pray, to watch and witness, to hope, believing in the Beloved Community of unconditional grace that we have not yet seen in fullness -- only in a glass darkly in our queer koinonia. This is true love for God, without self-interest, with nothing left to gain.
Dorothy Allison wrote, "Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is just this -- if we cannot name our own we are cut off at the root...." I use this quotation each year for my church's Trans Day of Remembrance service, an event I am tired of observing. I'm weary of counting our dead, and weary of reading the ways we die.