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Ascending Beyond Gender: Trans Day of Remembrance 2019

When Gwendolyn Smith established Transgender Day of Remembrance in 1999 as a memorial to fallen comrade Rita Hester, there was no way that she could have predicted the future of trans & gender non-conforming activism to have blossomed the way that it would have in today’s day and age. Very often, all we can see is the darker side of the conversation that echoes the sad state of a transphobic culture, reinforced by abusive gender politics, disgusting rhetoric from our governmental leaders, and the high mortality rate of black trans womxn due to violent hate crimes (the death toll for 2019 has reached 22 and is still climbing). 

 

However, Trans Day of Remembrance is an opportunity for us, as a community, as a family, to rejoice in the lives of our trans siblings and provide reminders that they, too, are irreplaceable parts of our story. It is an opportunity for us to celebrate the lives of those still with us as well as those who’s lives were ripped from them before their time. 

 

It is a time for us to reflect on what we’ve done and what we can do to protect our trans family. 

 

Wondering how you can best commemorate Trans Day of Remembrance this coming November 20th? SOULE  has interviewed two folx from the trans community who were gracious enough to light the path towards that end: 

 

Name: Tyson Evans (@TransPlayBoy on Twitter)

Pronouns: He/Him

 

 

 

  • What does the trans experience mean to you?

 

 

 

 The trans experience to me is about being comfortable with yourself and your identity, it’s a journey. Everyone does what’s best for them. Every experience is unique.

 

 

  • If you could describe your journey in one word, what would it be (and why?)

 

 

Amazing. Just because I’ve gotten so much support from friends and family. I’ve come so far and to just see my growth is amazing.

 

 

  • Who is one black/brown trans individual in history that, in your opinion, doesn’t get enough shine when we talk about remembering trans folx who fought for us? 

 

 

I feel Marsaha P Johnson never gets enough shine when it comes to speaking on the history of the community. We often over look black trans women.

 

 

  • How can we, as a community, best honor Trans Remembrance Day?

 

 

We need to keep in mind all the black trans women we have lost and also appreciate the ones that are living too. Support and donate to black trans women & femmes. It’s a day of Remembrance for all trans folks but trans women are effected the most by the violence.

 

 

  • How can cis folx become good allies to the trans community? 

 

 

When we speak on things, just listen please. Donate and support trans people and trans people who own businesses. If you want a trans person to educate you, I think it’s best to pay for our time.

 

Name:  Luka Justis Parker

Pronouns:  He/Him

 

 

  • What does the trans experience mean to you? 

 

 

The trans experience means living my whole truth, no matter what hardships might come my way because of it. It means surrounding myself with community who love and cherish me in ways that have helped me love and cherish others in a more selfless way.

 

 

  • If you could describe your journey in one word, what would it be (and why?)

 

 

Fulfilling. Living my truth has allowed me to embrace and be embraced by some beautiful people. My platonic and romantic relationships are healthy, nourishing, and constantly inspiring. I’m able to view the world in a way that I’m blessed to witness. 

 

 

  • Who is one black/brown trans individual in history that, in your opinion, doesn’t get enough shine when we talk about remembering trans folx who fought for us? 

 

 

Honestly, there are so many that it’s very hard to choose. If I had to pick off the top of my head, I’ll have to say Jackie Shane, an R&B singer from the ‘60s who also happened to be a trans woman.  

 

 

  • How can we, as a community, best honor Trans Remembrance Day? 

 

 

It gets exhausting being reminded of all the negativity and death throughout the year. I want to see more love, laughter, and joy that is wrapped up in the community. People must take a moment to step back and remember those who have passed while also recognizing that we have to start showing up for this community every day while we’re still able to. 

 

 

  • How can cis folx become good allies to the trans community? 

 

 

Cis people need to listen to what trans people have to say about our bodies/lives/etc. and not make everything about themselves. In order to understand better and be able to show up for us [trans people] effectively, an effort to really support us must be made. Boost our voices, donate and share our fundraisers, advocate on our behalf when you’re able to, etc.

 

Beyond the advice given to us by our interviewees, here are some things you can do on Trans Day of Remembrance to properly honor the day: 

 

    1. Gain knowledge and perspective on the true purpose of the day. There are a lot of gimmicks out there that seek to capitalize on the trans experience without honor or amplification. Sites like https://tdor.translivesmatter.info/ offer details on the lost lives of trans folx, movements you can support, and causes you can align with in order to provide sustainable allyship that transcends performativeness. 

 

    1. Find a local Trans Day of Remembrance rally/vigil to attend and show your support. For our NYC readers, it’s as easy as a google search. Several are going on in the city, including this one

 

    1. Align yourself with local black & brown trans activism/organizing spaces (for example, the Audre Lorde Project in NYC). With tiered levels of activity, you’ll be able to stay plugged in to local events and opportunities to learn, grow, and show your support in legitimate ways. 

 

Let this November 20th be the day we move from spectatorship to true activism that honors the sacrifices made by our trans family. 

 

 

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