About noon yesterday — the Transgender Day of Remembrance — I posted this on Facebook:
Today is the Trans Day of Remembrance.
Today we mourn our dead.
It is not a day of trans awareness or trans visibility or even trans advocacy.
It is a day of trans grief.
Allies, please respect that.
My friend Kim, who is perhaps the staunchest trans ally I know, asked in response (gently and compassionately, as is her way):
So, help me. As you know I’m an ally. Is an expression of love ok? Is sharing a sentiment like your comment, with our LGBTQ employee group ok? From an educational perspective?
My reply follows. It’s a Facebook comment that somehow morphed itself into something that is part essay, part self-therapy.
To your questions, yes, yes, and yes.
I’m referring to—to cite an extreme example—a public TDoR observance I attended that included speakers advocating for gay rights, as well a couple of politicians who, as politicians are wont to do, took it not as an opportunity to stand together in mourning, but as an opportunity to toot their own horns about what great allies they are etc.
I’ve seen allies try to lead the planning process.
I’ve seen the Day of Remembrance turned into Trans Week of Awareness And Education on one campus.
And none of those is a Bad Thing® in itself. What bothers me is losing the centrality of the meaning of this day.
I personally feel the day very deeply—those are *my people* who were killed, whose names were read. And it’s *my people* who live in fear of being on next year’s list.
It’s a time for us to face the truth of the hatred that too many people feel for us. And for me, it’s a time to contemplate the apparent miracle of my own privileged post-transition life, where I’m statistically unlikely to be physically assaulted, much less killed.
In large part, it’s a day for us, for my people, to unflinchingly face together the reality that is trans life, even that it includes the possibility of being killed by someone acting in blind hate.
On this day, I don’t need to hear all you’re doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again; I just need to be held and understood. On the other 364 days of the year, then—yes, please, do tell me about all the work you’re doing for us.
But on this day, as we open ourselves to the deep emotions that come with encountering the deaths of our people, please treat it as a day of grief and mourning. That’s what it is.
I have no way of knowing whether any of my comment-cum-essay-cum-self-therapy helped to answer my friend’s questions. But she did “Like” my comment with a heart emoji, so I believe I did touch her in some way.