Through Grief and Pain We Rise Up
The collectivization of mourning this Transgender Day of Remembrance can build structures for survival and transformation.
On Sunday, November 20, people across the country will gather for Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) to say the names and grieve the deaths of the transgender people we have lost to violence this year. Each year the number of deaths grows.
Each year more trans women of color’s beautiful lives are cut short by the violence of partners, strangers, systems of neglect and incarceration. Trans people’s bodies are situated as threats and the natural and predicable result is that we are predisposed to shortened lives, tragic deaths. In the face of these sustained assaults, remembrance offers healing and resistance. The profound declaration that trans lives will not be erased, that trans deaths not forgotten, that trans visions not squandered, invigorate our collective insistence that we will not simply disappear.
This year’s TDOR feels particularly haunting as we look toward a future Trump/Pence presidency that will no doubt bring more death and despair to our community. The escalation of criminal legal system and immigration enforcement threatens the safety of trans immigrants; the continuation and expansion of Muslim registries and systematized Islamophobia makes more precarious the survival opportunities for Muslim people who are trans; the promises to deny health care to trans people will literally kill us; the removal of legal protections for youth will push young trans people out of schools. There is darkness on the horizon and people are understandably terrified. Remembrance can feel foreboding when survival is uncertain.
But in this understandable moment of fear and uncertainty, this Sunday’s coming together can offer us powerful tools for collective transformation. By insisting that we exist and calling on remembrance, we can look to the tools of survival that our elders have long honed in the face of legal systems that neglected them or worse. We can share physical, spiritual and emotional space to demonstrate to each other that we will not give up and that those of us with the resources to fight will give everything that we have. By holding each other, listening, learning, loving we can build strength to anticipate and fight what might be in store and what has long been present.
Indeed, our remembrance can fuel our resilience. Our community is so beautiful and so powerful. Even in our fragility, even when we break, we find ways to grow and re-imagine ourselves and our future.
I resolve to deepen my fight to expand a sense of future and survival possibilities for the many people who experience the relentless constraints of oppressive systems.
This week I will donate to funds invested in trans survival. I will tell my trans siblings that I love them. I will read about resistance. I will challenge my understanding of systemic violence and my complicity in it. I will celebrate the bodies and lives and gifts of our elders. I will take care of myself.
There is no right way to grieve or remember or survive. I am just in it to hold you and love you while you find your path and hopefully we will share our stories and create more paths as we navigate the coming days, months and years.
Pass it on.