Today, November 20, is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). The day is largely unnoticed by nearly everyone. Banks are open. The Post Office is delivering mail. To my knowledge, malls are not running 25% off sales to commemorate anything having to do with transgender people.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day to memorialize those whose lives were lost because of anti-transgender fear, bigotry, and hatred. Vigils, some by faith communities, are planned around the world to remember those who were killed during the previous year. I plan to be part of an outdoor service at a place called “The Rock” on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing.
The term transgender is used to describe a person who may act, feel, think, or look different from the biological sex he or she was born with. Transgender persons feel that their birth-given sex of male or female is not right for them. One transgender person described it to me this way, “My spirit was in the wrong body.”
Sometimes this conflict has biological reasons. A person with XX chromosomes is generally considered female; someone with XY chromosomes is considered male. However, there are people with variations of chromosomal structure and hormonal imbalances that can lead a person to feel like the opposite sex. Some transgender folks opt for reconstructive surgery in order to become the gender they believe they are. Others live and act like the gender they believe they are without radical surgery. In short, one’s biological sex and gender identity are not as clearly defined as the Genesis story of Adam and Eve would suggest.
Any way you see it, a transgender person does not lead an easy life. Changing your name from male to female, or female to male, then heading off to the Department of Motor Vehicles to make those changes on your driver’s license is just one of many mountains to climb.
Things we don’t understand we tend to fear; things we fear we tend to hate; things we hate we tend to get rid of. Transgender Day of Remembrance recalls the lives of transgender persons who were killed because they were different, who became easy targets for hate crimes.
At the end of this day, I know I’ll be praying this prayer, a prayer worth praying every day:
Bless me, O God, with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within my heart. Bless me, O God, with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation, so that I may work for justice, freedom, and peace. Bless me, O God, with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that I may reach out my hand to comfort and to turn pain into joy. Bless me, O God, with enough foolishness to believe that I can make a difference in this world, so that I may do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.