Many of us feel lucky to have the loved ones that we do. We meet people who are sweet and kind and who we ‘click’ with, who bring joy into our lives and we appreciate the hell out of them. We find people whose differences and commonalities mesh with ours, with strengths and weaknesses that complement ours, and we cherish absolutely what they bring to our lives. We gather our Team Us. We love each other, we help each other out, we have fun together and support each other when things get rough. And whether things are good or bad, we know that we’re immensely lucky to share our lives with those we love.
I guess that a lot of us feel like we’re luckier than most in that respect- after all, we’re one of a tiny proportion of people in the world who get to live our lives with the people that we love.
Today, though, I do feel luckier than most. I wish that it didn’t have to be that way. Today is the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, you see, when we take time to mourn and recognise all of the trans* people who should be here with us today, but who have been killed by transphobia in the past year. Everyone who was murdered because of how their gender was perceived. Everyone who was driven to suicide by this transphobic, ciscentric society that we live in. Every year we do this, and every year I want to hold the trans* people who I love just that little bit closer. Because we’ve all survived another year. Because those who I love have been spared.
Isn’t that selfish? I guess that we’re all a little bit selfish. We all love who we love, and though we care for those outside that little group, it’s the loss of our family, friends and lovers that tears at our guts and rips our lives apart. So every year on November 20th I feel a little bit lucky. The people I love are still here.
It’s a cruel kind of luck, and one that nobody should have to feel.
Like most of us, I’ve said goodbye to people I love over the years. They’ve died in different circumstances. Some after long years of illness. Some after short months or weeks. Some expected, some unexpected. Some peacefully, some in pain. The loss of every single one of them tore- and tears- my heart apart. But there’s one thing that is common to every one of them that I will always take comfort from. Every one of them died knowing that they were dearly loved. Everything that we could do to ease their suffering was done. They didn’t want for a hand to hold. They were cherished as they died.
Nobody can tell how each of us will end our lives. But that one simple thing- that in our last moments we know that we are loved and cherished, and that if there is any way to ease our suffering it will be done- is something that we can hope for everyone we care for. It’s the one thing that we can do.
Too many of our trans* community are denied that.
So every year on November 20th we gather and we take time to remember the trans* people who didn’t make it this far. Whose last moments were hatred, violence, contempt. Whose deaths were nothing but sport for those for whom their lives meant less than nothing. The latest victims in our wars of privilege and oppression. The overwhelming numbers of, in particular, poor trans* women of colour, caught in the crossfire of too many intersections of hate. We gather together in the cold. Send short-lived, brightly burning lights into the darkness.
And every year I hold my loved ones closer.
- Transgender Day Of Remembrance (kiramoorescloset.wordpress.com)
- Today is International Transgender Day of Remembrance (uchicagolgbtq.wordpress.com)
- I Am Not a Victim (ihaterollercoasters.wordpress.com)
- Pushed Through The Cracks: Transgender Lives And Deaths On The Day Of Remembrance (thinkprogress.org)
- Today is International Transgender Day of Remembrance (queerlandia.com)
- 20 November 2012: 14th international Transgender Day of Remembrance (thefword.org.uk)
- Transgender Day of Remembrance (freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed)