Friday, November 20, 2009

Transgender Day of Remembrance today

Transgender Day of Remembrance by Mikhaela Reid
Today, on Transgender Day of Remembrance, we commemorate those who were killed due to anti-transgender hate or prejudice. The event was founded in 1999 to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on Nov. 28, 1998 sparked the “Remembering Our Dead” web project. Since then it has grown into an international phenomenon observed around the world. It serves the dual purpose of honoring the dead and raising public awareness of hate crimes against transgenders — that is, transsexuals, crossdressers, and other gender-variant people. Mikhaela Reid pictures some of the more prominent victims of anti-transgender violence in the cartoon above: Rita Hester, Brandon Teena (subject of the movie “Boys Don’t Cry”), Gwen Arujo, Chanelle Picket, Nakia Ladelle Baker, Debra Forte, and Tyra Hunter. Born in 1980, Reid is a political cartoonist whose many accomplishments include service as president of the Gay/Straight Alliance at her high school in Massachusetts. I am putting this post in the GLBT Saints series, even though the people honored on this date may not be “saints” in the usual sense. They were murdered for being transgender (or perceived as such). Thus they are martyrs to the cause of equality for all, regardless of gender identity. Spiritual resources for Transgender Day of Remembrance are available at TransFaith Online, including this prayer by Rabbi Reuben Zellman, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco, CA:
God full of mercy, bless the souls of all who are in our hearts on this Transgender Day of Remembrance. We call to mind today young and old, of every race, faith, and gender experience, who have died by violence. We remember those who have died because they would not hide, or did not pass, or did pass, or stood too proud. Today we name them: the reluctant activist; the fiery hurler of heels; the warrior for quiet truth; the one whom no one really knew. As many as we can name, there are thousands more whom we cannot, and for whom no prayers may have been said. We mourn their senseless deaths, and give thanks for their lives, for their teaching, and for the brief glow of each holy flame. We pray for the strength to carry on their legacy of vision, bravery, and love. And as we remember them, we remember with them the thousands more who have taken their own lives. We pray for resolve to root out the injustice, ignorance, and cruelty that grow despair. And we pray, God, that all those who perpetrate hate and violence will speedily come to understand that Your creation has many faces, many genders, many holy expressions. Blessed are they, who have allowed their divine image to shine in the world. Blessed is God, in whom no light is extinguished.
The following links offer more info on Transgender Day of Remembrance: Original “Day of Remembrance” site: Up-to-date info: _________ This post is part of the new GLBT Saints series at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints and holy people of special interest to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people and our allies are covered on appropriate dates throughout the year.


Terence Weldon said...

Thanks for pointing this out, and for the links. It gives me a great reason to write on this neglected group in our wider community.

Trudie said...

What a lovely addition to the GLBT series. I truly hope this gets wide attention.

Jo Clifford said...

Thank you dear heart.
that's a really beautiful prayer.

pennyjane hanson said...

"some things are worse than death."

when i remember i remember a spirit that death couldn't even wing, much less kill. when i remember i remember her, a girl like me.

i remember her spirit, her unyielding dignity. i remember her simplicity....her inability to be what she wasn't.

she COULDN'T fake it....the lie wasn't in her.

i remember her love..."i love you too much." i remember her courage, her indestructable vulnerability.

but most of all...i remember her hope...the hope that that made her more fearless than courageous.

i remember gwen araujo...and i love her.

Kittredge Cherry said...

Many thanks to all of you who have left comments on this post. It’s very helpful to know which posts are the most meaningful to folks out there. This is the first time I’ve covered Transgender Day of Remembrance, so I’m glad to know that it was worth the effort.

I almost didn’t run anything about Transgender Day of Remembrance because I thought that the artist denied permission to reprint her work. It turned out that her approval was hidden in my spam folder for almost a week!

PennyJane, your comment is truly a poem, and I stand in awe of what you wrote. It sounds like you knew Gwen personally… my condolences on your loss -- and the loss to all of us.

This part of your comment hit home in an especially powerful way for me: “she COULDN'T fake it....the lie wasn't in her.” That sounds like my own beloved life partner!

You all may not realize, but commenter “Joteatro” is an illustrious person, none other than Jo Clifford, the playwright who wrote and performed “Jesus, Queen of Heaven.” Thanks, Jo, for visiting the Jesus in Love Blog and leaving your beautiful comment.