Today is the 16th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. I have been to one event already, I will be reading some of the names later on today in another, and I will be leading an event at my congregation on Sunday. I don’t mind saying that I’d rather not have the dubious honor of reading the names. I could back down and say I just can’t do it. Except I can’t, my own honor will not let me do so. Today, I am feeling sad because I must confront the evils done to the trans community in this past year. Twenty four trans persons killed in the US in the past 12 months. We surpassed 2014’s 16 murders in August. Plus, twenty trans persons who killed themselves this past year in the US. And this is just who we know. How many more transgender persons have been killed or taken their own lives that we don’t know about?
Trying to write a sermon about TDoR has given me some perspective on it. One is that I am completely unready and unsuited to give such a solemn sermon. Another is that I avoided it for so long because I was, and still am, uncomfortable with the topic. Death is one thing, but to speak about the violence perpetrated on the trans community is something different. Death as an abstract is easy. Death, when it could have been you, is so much harder. I’m a transwoman and somewhat open about it. I could have been killed by someone for simply existing. I also suffer from severe anxiety and depression and seeing some of the hate that is flung towards the trans community could have pushed me over the edge. There have been times when I was ready to take my own life, had I had to deal with the bullying that is done to transpersons, I don’t think I would be here now.
Please attend a service near you, even if you are cisgender. Read the names and the causes of death, especially if you have never met a trans person. Here is a list of the names of those murdered: #readthenames. And over here is a list of the names of those who could no longer bear their bullying: #notonemore. Unfortunately, we in the trans community cannot even rely on the police to protect us. We cannot expect medical personnel to treat us. We cannot walk down the street without wondering who wants to kill us. That is not a way to live and needs to change now! Not when others are ready to accept us. Not when studies are done showing that we exist and our treatment is to be ourselves. Not after even one more death. We need to be full persons NOW! We need the same respect that others get.