Saturday is a day of mourning. It is not a day that is on the national calendar. In fact with the exception of a small percentage of people in this country this day of mourning will pass completely unnoticed.
Those who take a moment and remember on this day will find themselves swinging between tears of grief and deep waves of anger not to mention a certain amount of fear of further attacks.
The devastating images of those viciously killed in 2010 for simply trying to be themselves is something we should remember, something that should burn in our souls.
The people we mourn for this day are apart of the community most would just as soon not deal with. Oh we go to watch the drag shows and tell our jokes and we have added a “T” to the GLB_Q but still don’t take seriously enough that folks in the transgender community live in a very dangerous and un-supportive world.
While progress has been made, while things have gotten better, there is still a long ways to go and this community is still too often an after thought.
We still do not take seriously enough these children of God find it extremely difficult to get jobs, get health care or any kind of support and dignity.
In fact in our fair city of Atlanta, the shelters are still not required to accept those who are in transition unless they are willing to accept being forcible moved backwards in that transition.
People in transition walking down the street at the wrong time or in the wrong neighborhood stand a good chance of being stopped by the police and questioned around drugs, prostitution or both.
The fact is most political leaders of the community see the trans community as nothing more then a “political calculation”. In fact far too often these people are something to be added or subtracted from the political equation.
I still see far too often in community meetings the eyes roll or heads shake when the needs of the trans community are brought up.
So even today the message continues to go out loud and clear…it is still open season on those who would dare to transition from one gender to another.
We often forget is it was these folks who started the whole “gay rights” movement we know today when they stood toe to high heal with the New York City police department at Stonewall.
We do not acknowledge nearly enough they have been with us every step of this bloody fight for our rights, our self worth and our very souls.
We only recognize from a distance that each day when they get out of bed and step into the world it may in fact be their last day.
So on this day I implore you to remember the transgender community…to pay attention to the day that has become known as “Transgender Day of Remembrance”
May we who mourn and remember today take some comfort in these words:
“God is King, despite the chaos that may be roaring around us.” (Ps 93)
“If one member suffers, the whole body suffers…” (I Cor 12)
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Nothing in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8)
“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10
“The Lord takes care of me as his sheep; I will not be without any good thing. He makes a resting-place for me in the green fields: he is my guide by the quiet waters. He gives new life to my soul: he is my guide in the ways of righteousness because of his name. Yes, though I go through the valley of deep shade, I will have no fear of evil; for you are with me, your rod and your support are my comfort. You make ready a table for me in front of my haters: you put oil on my head; my cup is overflowing. Truly, blessing and mercy will be with me all the days of my life; and I will have a place in the house of the Lord all my days.” Psalm 23
Saturday evening, here and all around the country may we find ourselves moved to pray.
May these prayers be for all of the victims, their families and friends.
May we pray for our government to have the wisdom, the courage and a God like response to this insanity. Let us pray for God’s protection and a calming of theirs and our fears.
And may our prayers be accompanied by expressions of our faith – in which we are not conformed to the ways the world and how they will respond to children of God, but to the way the Christ would respond. May we be in our speech and actions the love of God.
Let us remember the words of Gwendolyn Ann Smith:
We have lost so many people in our community to the hand of hatred and prejudice, yet we still are not seemingly willing to fight back. Meanwhile, we die at the hands of a lover, of police, of medical practitioners, and even parents, while the news media calls us “freaks” — and worse.
In fact, the media’s reluctance to cover our deaths lies near the heart of this project. It can be all-but-impossible to find honest, reliable media on the death of a transgender person: It either does not exist (which is how one can cover thirty years of cases and still only have as many as I have to present), or it uses names that the deceased did not own, and pronouns that did not fit their reality.
In the world we live in today there is no “safe way” to be transgender: Some are living very out lives, and some are living fully “stealth” lives. Some are identifying as male, some as female and some as both and neither. Some lived in small towns, and some in major metropolitan areas.
There are things we can do and must do if the killing is to stop. I would encourage our community and friends to:
• Let us educate ourselves about transgender issues.
• Let us be aware of our attitudes concerning people with gender-atypical appearance or behavior.
• Let us make more than a good faith effort to use names and pronouns that are appropriate to the person’s gender presentation and identity.
• Let us not make assumptions about transgender people’s sexual orientation, desire for surgical or hormonal treatment, or other aspects of their identity or transition plans.
• Let us keep the lines of communication open with the transgender person (s) in our lives.
• Let us become more aware of the things which would make life easier and the transition smoother, i.e. markers on drivers licenses, applications and forms.
• Let us not just sit on our lack of knowledge and understanding. Let us seek out support in dealing with our feelings. This is the 21st century and there are plenty of resources for us to get help.
Finally but not least let us turn out in mass this Saturday evening at the State Capital to show the “T” really is apart of LGBTQ and it does not stand-alone. I know it is Saturday night but we were enraged when they raided our bar can we not also comfort our friends in their loss?
Here is the list of those who were taken from this world far too soon in the United States and Mexico. The entire list can be seen here.
Mariah Malina Qualls Location: San Francisco, California Cause of Death: Blunt force trauma to the head. Date of Death: December 9, 2009 Mariah was 23 years old
Estrella (Jose Angel) Venegas Location: Mexicali, Mexico Cause of Death: Shot in the chest and the forehead Date of Death: December 13, 2009 Estrella was 32 years old
Myra Chanel Ical Location: Houston, Texas Cause of Death: Many wounds and defensive bruises. Date of Death: January 18, 2010 Myra was 51 years old.
Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar Location: Queens, New York Cause of Death: Strangled Date of Death: March 27, 2010 Amanda was 29 years old.
Toni Alston Location: Charlotte, North Carolina Cause of Death: shot to death Date of Death: April 3, 2010 Toni was 44 years old.
Chanel (Dana A. Larkin) Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin Cause of Death: Shot in the head Date of Death: May 7, 2010 Chanel was 26 years old.
Sandy Woulard Location: Chicago, Illinois Cause of Death: Shot in the chest Date of Death June 21, 2010 Sandy was 28 years old.
Antonio Jones III Location: Southampton, NY Cause of Death: Punched repeatedly and grabbed by the neck Date of Death: August 1, 2010 Roy was 16 Months old. Note: 20 year old Pedro Jones told police he had struck the infant several times with a closed fist. Jones said he was “trying to make him act like a boy instead of a little girl.”
Gypsy Location: Houston, Texas Cause of Death: shot to death Date of Death: September 6, 2010
Victoria Carmen White Location Maplewood, New Jersey Cause of Death shot Date of Death September 12, 2010 Victoria was 28 years old.