by Marti Abernathey
As I was working on today’s annual Transgender Day of Remembrance I was fretting about the candles, the slides, the names, the equipment, all the things that go into making a day like this happen. I was relaying this anxiety to a friend of mine. He said “well this day isn’t about the candles or the slides, but about remembering.
Today is a day to remember those that have fallen due to some senseless act of violence. They are not just names on a card, on a website or on a sheet of paper. You may have never known a person on this listing of our dead, but you have felt loss before. Every person here today has lost someone, a father, a mother, a partner, a child, or a friend.
Today I ask you to think of the loss of someone important to you. These names on the list were living, breathing vibrant human beings before they were so violently taken from our world. These victims were just like your loved ones, they were just like you. They had dreams, hopes, and desires. Each one of these names was more than just a name; they were a heart, a mind, and a soul.
Maya Angelou once said that “We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.” The commonality of each person on this list was that they dared live their truth. But they were more than transgendered. Each person on this list was a loved one; a loved one that will never return home, a loved one that will never have another Christmas or another birthday celebration.
As you leave here today think about your loved ones, then remember what this day is about. It’s about loss; it’s about unnecessary violence against our fallen brothers and sisters. It’s about never forgetting why they died.
John F. Kennedy once said “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue, whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.”
Today we remember our dead, but tomorrow we must set out a path to end this. Leave here today with a rekindled source of activism. Make it your passion. If you see an article in the newspaper refer to a transgender person with incorrect pronouns, correct them. If laws are unjust, work to change them. In whatever it is that you do, work with all your heart and soul to make sure that this list doesn’t get any longer.
With that I’ll leave you with Native American prayer:
O Great Spirit of our Ancestors, I raise my pipe to you.
To your messengers the four winds,
and to Mother Earth who provides for your children.
Give us the wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect,
and to be kind to each other so that they may grow with peace in mind.
Let us learn to share all the good things you provide for us on this Earth.