Hanukkah and Transgender Day of Remembrance

This year, Transgender Day of Remembrance falls very close to Hanukkah. It turns out that the two commemorations have more in common than candles. S. Bear Bergman, a Jewish transgender author, draws parallels between the two in a new book

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day set aside to memorialize trans people who have been killed because of their gender identities. Founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender designer and activist in the wake of the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Mass., the day is now observed in hundreds of cities around the world. Typically, there’s a candlelight vigil, and participants read the names of transgender people who have been killed in the past year. No doubt the name of Islan Nettles, a transgender woman who was murdered in August in New York City, will be read aloud tonight.

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This year, Transgender Day of Remembrance falls very close to Hanukkah. It turns out that the two commemorations have more in common than candles. S. Bear Bergman, a Jewish transgender author, draws parallels between the two in a new book, “Blood, Marriage, Wine and Glitter”:

Every year there are more candles to light as the annual count grows. I want to love any increase of brightness, but lighting a candle for every murdered transperson in the past year is not one of those times. I wish the number of flames would dwindle. I am in that moment of the House of Shammai, he who argued that Chanukah candles should start at eight and dwindle down to one. Hillel’s method, the increase of light, was adopted instead, and it seems correct to me even when I separate it from “tradition,” also known as “the way we’ve always done it in my family ever since we started having the holiday at our house instead of Bubbe Rochel’s.” Light should increase in times of joy, in times of sorrow, light should increase. I do not think these are contradictory positions.

 

Read the full story on The Forward