We've prematurely and violently lost way too many fucking trans people this year and I've had it. I've lost the energy to mourn anymore.
In the two years, one month, and seventeen days since I have existed for myself as trans, my life has been upended in more ways than are communicable, and I have painstakingly built myself up from a quivering, cracked shell to an actual person: full-bodied, blood rushing, skin stretching, heart full. Now, I have community. I have purpose. I have fierce ass, strong ass, intelligent ass, fabulous ass, RESILIENT ass trans people in my life all the time, and I thank them for their power. They remind me Why when it all gets difficult on the days it still does.
But we as trans people still face a lot on the daily, between innumerable external forces shouting at us that we don't matter and our own internal battles at reminding ourselves that we do. Which is why it's difficult for me to get behind an enormous annual memorial service: I know that trans people, specifically trans women of color, are being murdered at horrible rates. I say their names and remember them throughout the year. On this one annual day that we observe as a community (though the Trans 100 is certainly gaining wider recognition), I am starved for encouragement, not a reminder of the possibly impending.
Following the lead of someone I admire a great fucking deal, Dr. Kai M Green, today on the annual Trans Day of Remembrance I don't want to remember all the names and deaths if we're not gonna remember the joy and community too. The people who have died had names and lives; they had families and lovers and aspirations. They had best friends who they could tell their delectable secrets to; they had purpose and meaning and forward fucking motion. They carved spaces for themselves and for each other when space did not exist for them, and they fought with teeth for basic human dignity. They sought hope. They helped each other survive, although some of them did not. They once took a spontaneous road trip just because they could. They once stayed up to watch the sunrise. They once were touched with love.
I spent the summer researching the life of trans legend Sylvia Rivera for my chapbook 28.06 // Dear Sylvia. In the book, I reach across the gap of time and of life and death and try to understand how any one person—much less a trans woman of color with every possible card stacked against her—had as much willpower and resilience as she did. I ask her for some, even with my cards looking incredibly more favorable: how in the face of utter impossibility did she still rise?
2015 has been a veritable shitshow. Transphobia, queerphobia, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and sexism have left a lot of bodies in their wake. The white cisheteropatriarchy knows that we're coming for them and they're trying to squash us at all costs.
And so I ask us on this Trans Day of Remembrance to honor the dead for who they were and what they did, and carry that forward with us as encouragement. To continue their work. I ask us like Kai to be joyful, and build community, and I ask us like Sylvia to still rise. I ask this day not to cripple us where we stand but to ground us in the work and propel us forward.
Today, we pause and remember and honor and say their names.
Tomorrow, we move.