Today, November 20, is a day of mourning for the transgender community. On this day we grieve for those we’ve lost in the past year to anti-trans violence, a practice that started in 1988 in the wake of the murder of Rita Hester in Boston.
2016 was a particularly brutal year for us: in the United States alone, twenty-four souls were murdered, the majority of whom were Black trans women. Globally, Trans Respect Versus Transphobia reports 295 murders.
And now, in the wake of the presidential election, we fear that 2017 will be far worse. As trans Unitarian Universalist leaders we grieve today, rededicate ourselves to the struggle for survival, and call on our fellow people of faith to join us in the fight against hatred and violence—particularly against trans antagonism, racism, and sexism.
For many of us, this day of remembrance is full of mixed feelings. We are sad, we are angry, and we dare to be hopeful, even in the face of so much loss. Today we remember the ones among us who lost their lives because of hatred and violence.
These people—these precious souls and members of our dear human family—were targeted by bullies and killers—for simply being who they were. Some of them were openly and proudly transgender or transsexual. Some were questioning and testing, stretching themselves and the rules about gender, looking for a space to be themselves. And some of them were simply perceived to be different, whether they meant to be or not—and that difference was used as an excuse for anger and hatred, violence and death.
I know it is hard—so very hard—to hear these stories, to see the names of so many who died. These people are my people—my family and tribe as a transgender man. To face the reality of their suffering and death is painful. And yet, I believe that remembering is a powerful act—an act of hope and defiance—and that these amazing, beautiful people live on in us when we remember them.
And so I am here with you, grieving, remembering, facing my sadness, anger and fear, so that they will not be forgotten. By remembering, we give their lives and their deaths just a little more meaning. By remembering, we begin to transform our fear into strength, our anger into determination, and our grief into awareness that each life—theirs and ours—is a blessing.
Thank you for being here with me as we remember those who have died in the past year. May we never forget.
—Rev. Sean Parker Dennison
On this Transgender Day of Remembrance,
we remember those who have been murdered for being who they are,
those who face violence on a daily basis,
those who have lost loved ones, and those who worry for loved ones.
May we come to a time when we cease to shame children around gender roles and expression,
where we allow for freedom and exploration of identity and expression,
and to a world that operates from love especially when things are difficult and confusing.
May all of us who live with the threat of violence find support, strength,
community, hope, and safety from violence.
—Rev. Sunshine Jeremiah Wolfe
For more prayers, visit We Pray: Prayers To and For the Transgender Community on TRUUsT member Andrew Coate’s blog.
For a short history of Transgender Day of Remembrance, visit TransGriot, trans leader and media trailblazer Monica Roberts’s blog.
For more powerful words from trans leaders of color on Trans Day of Remembrance, check out:
- “Not One More” by Cherno Biko
- “Latifa” by Monica Stevens Yorkman
- Reflection by Bamby Salcedo
- Reflection by Pauline Park
- Reflection by Ignacio Rivera
- “There Will Come a Day” by KOKUMO
- “We Gather” by Rev. Louis Mitchell