The Growing Importance of Trans Remembrance

Jewish trans activist Dana Beyer wrote a special post for International Transgender Remembrance Day this week on the Huffington Post, and chooses to end it with a prayer from Rabbi Reuben Zellman, called “Twilight People”

In a follow-up to my blog post from last week, I’d like to report that three days later Ms. Maddow used the phrase “sexual orientation and gender identity” when describing the protected categories under the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA). I’d like to thank my friends and colleagues for reaching out to her and helping bring about this change. It’s a start, and the use of accurate language will help educate our progressive friends on the issues of gender identity and expression. I hope that in the future we will see this most favorite of gay media personalities cover stories of trans content and interest as we strive to broaden support for the entire LGBT community.

This week is a somber one, as today is the 15th Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), and the week is filled with commemorations and memorials, as well as days of action and community education and service. Attendance continues to grow, including that of elected leaders, such as D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who is one of our community’s foremost champions and has attended many such events; Montgomery County Chief of Police Tom Manger; and a number of state legislators at services throughout Maryland. And the U.S. Secretary of State himself, John Kerry, said today:

The State Department joins people around the world in marking Transgender Day of Remembrance, honoring the memory of lives lost to violence provoked by fear and hatred of transgender and gender non-conforming people.

We have made tremendous progress in advancing the rights of LGBT persons. But when people continue to be harassed, arrested and even killed simply because of who they are and who they love, we know that we still have hard work before us.

The sad truth is that in too many places, including the United States, transgender persons continue to face violence and discrimination on a daily basis.

The growing importance of this day is comforting to me, and a form of recognition and validation. Shared mourning leads to shared humanity in other forms, and while I hope we can eventually create and share more upbeat days within both the trans and LGBT communities, I ask that you all end this day on a note of hope. It does get better, because some very dedicated persons are working to make it so.

I will end with a prayer from Rabbi Reuben Zellman, called “Twilight People”:

As the sun sinks and the colors of the day turn, we offer a blessing for the twilight, for twilight is neither day nor night, but in-between. We are all twilight people. We can never be fully labeled or defined. We are many identities and loves, many genders and none. We are in between roles, at the intersection of histories, or between place and place. We are crisscrossed paths of memory and destination, streaks of light swirled together. We are neither day nor night. We are both, neither, and all.

May the sacred in-between of this evening suspend our certainties, soften our judgments, and widen our vision. May this in-between light illuminate our way to the God who transcends all categories and definitions. May the in-between people who have come to pray be lifted up into this twilight. We cannot always define; we can always say a blessing. Blessed are You, God of all, who brings on the twilight.

Read the full post on The Huffington Post