Trigger warning: Violence
I am numb. I am mostly cried out. I just returned from the Dallas observation of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is the first one of these I’ve been to and I won’t be forgetting the experience.
It was held at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas and was very well attended. Still, I would have loved to see a line out the door, but I know; people are busy.
I ran into a lot of friends there and we talked in the lobby before the service. There were several speakers and their words were meaningful, hopeful, even powerful.
As music played, mostly of Brazilian folk origin, ushers passed out lit tea candles to all in attendance. Candlelight filled the sanctuary and tears began to fill my eyes. I knew what these candles represented; lives that were taken all too soon. Their light, like the light of these candles was extinguished after too brief a time. The thought of these gentle souls who only wanted to live an authentic life, to truly be themselves, being killed because of it was more than I could bear.
Then, they asked for volunteers to walk with roses and my roommate, Katie and I joined the volunteers at the rear of the sanctuary where there were hundreds of long stem roses, red, white & yellow. We were handed a rose and then lined up as the names of those brutally murdered was read. But it wasn’t just the name, age and where they were murdered, but the circumstances of that death.
As the names were read we would each, in turn, walk down the center aisle with our candle and a rose and place the rose gently on the alter. That was too much – I just couldn’t hold it together anymore. I was sobbing pretty much uncontrollably by now. I was a mess, make-up running with just one soggy tissue that had done its best to absorb the flood.
I mention the following not to shock or be gratuitous. I’m mentioning it because it happened…and it continues to happen. It’s a disgrace and it needs to stop, so I’m sharing it.
As we are walking down the center aisle with the roses to place on the altar, a voice reads the name of the transgender victim, their age and then the cause of death. What shocked me was the obvious deep level of hatred in these murders. While there is no “right” way to murder someone and the final outcome is identical, hearing these gentle people were murdered by stabbing, stoning, beating, shooting, in a few cases; decapitation. Many were set on fire. I can’t believe the large number of the 238 victims that were never identified. Brazil by far is where the largest number of these violent deaths took place. Too many of these victims could not even be identified!
So walking with a rose that represented a life, a human life, (just like mine, a transgender woman,) who was brutally murdered, I kissed the rose and placed it on the altar wandering back to the rear to repeat the trip for yet another young life that was taken away…for what? Making matters worse (for me anyway) was the thoughts of my daughters. Each one of these victims was somebody’s child. I can not imagine the grief they must have suffered and still do.
238 roses is a lot of roses. Under different circumstances that might make someone very happy, but tonight, it felt like I’d been to 238 funerals.
I don’t know what the answer is. I really don’t. None of the people who do horrible things like this read my blog. Y’all are some of the kindest, most sensitive and supporting people on Earth. You are the solution, not the problem. I don’t know how to reach those that hate.
I don’t even know what I’d say if I could speak to them. I don’t want to know “why” because there is no acceptable reason why. Maybe I’d want to know what could have been done to prevent the murder, because then, I’d do that thing. Except I think that what may have prevented it was the victim not being trans.*
To me, crazy as that sounds, that price is too high. I waited far too long, and I’ve suffered long enough! I WILL NOT live in fear. I am who I am. I am a transgender woman, and I am so much more. I am OK with me. I will change for no one. Simply living my life, which I do with as much love and compassion as I possess should not cost me my life.
Walking from the sanctuary, Katie and I were both wiping tears and I looked over and said simply, “There But For The Grace Of God.” She nodded, understanding completely. Those names could have been us and in a larger sense, they WERE us.
I plan on attending the 2014 Transgender Day of Remembrance. I just hope they don’t need near so many roses.