(from the 2009 archives) I open Facebook this morning and scrolled through to see what I’ve missed in the night. Tucked in among the status updates, links and game requests is a reminder that today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
They’re having a candlelight vigil in Santa Cruz tonight and I wish I could be there. I click on the reminder and it takes me to the page of the organization which founded the event, intended to raise awareness of violence against trans-people. There’s a downloadable spreadsheet on the site where someone has meticulously cataloged the names and dates and violent deaths of more than five hundred transgender men and women worldwide. It is a sobering read. In California alone, there have been 57 violent deaths this year.
The first trans-person I ever knew was not my friend The Poet, though he taught me more than anyone about gender identity. The first trans-person I knew was a woman I worked with in a little greenhouse company here in the valley, during my sophomore year of college. She was the daughter of the company’s founder and the sister of its CEO. To their credit, they did not ostracize her completely. To their shame, they tucked her away in a back office and kept her out of the public eye. She was in her mid fifties, a seemingly sad and awkward woman and the butt of many an office joke. Even then, knowing as little as I did about, well much of anything, I thought it was a horrible way to treat someone who so obviously had been through so much.
I count myself lucky to have known and continue to know my share of strong and lovely trans men, but somehow this day reminds me especially of the brave and beautiful trans women whose paths have crossed mine, of Edna, and Dax, of my friend who I like to call The Queen of Dangerous Shoes.
Though I cannot be at the clocktower in Santa Cruz tonight, I am there in spirit. I honor and mourn with them at the loss of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands, wives, parents, lovers and friends.