After the Transgender Day of Remembrance -- Fighting Back

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TDOR Seattle City Hall 2015

Fighting back means many things for many people. We, as trans people, may chose different ways but I firmly believe that, in one form or another, we all do it.

Fighting back means finding our gender. No one else's, just ours. That might mean living five decades in one gender, and maybe only one in another. Fighting back means proudly claiming NO gender, both genders, a third, fourth or fifth. Even within our own community, we may need to fight for this right. For example, there is no such thing as living in our gender "part-time," just complex choices about how, when, why and where we express our gender. This is our business and our business alone. And, honestly, we are all trans enough!

We need to challenge those who so fiercely push back on us to understand that their resistance has to do with their discomfort, their fear and that those feelings are theirs to own and understand. When someone says, "Are you a man or a woman?" why can't a clear, truthful response be a singular "YES!" Or a "No, thank you!"

Fighting back means doing our best to help those who don't understand find a way to understanding. Of course not everyone -- we are not saints! But, for those who love us, fighting back means having the courage to love them through this time. Forgiving them for being imperfect -- and forgiving them for being scared. It means taking a long, deep breath to find patience we didn't know we had, and that we never imagined we'd ever need.

Fighting back may mean letting someone go because we simply must care for ourselves. Taking responsibility for the care of our heart, our resiliency and our happiness? A gender transition is NOT a selfish act. Fighting back also means finding a way to forgive ourselves for sometimes feeling -- deep down inside -- that we are being selfish.

Fighting back also means telling someone (or is it EVERYONE?) that "I just am not going to answer that question anymore!" Or, we could say, (loudly, for example, in a crowded room) "Why do you need to know so much about my GENITALS?"

Fighting back means understanding that we are beautiful. Inside and out. We are exceptional and amazing. If we don't believe it, it will be difficult to convince others to do the same.

Fighting back means knowing we are sexy. 'Cause we are! We are hot -- others know it! We need to know it!

Advocating for tolerance alone is simply a willingness to accept crumbs -- it's not enough. We deserve love, acceptance, compassion, inclusion and celebration. What we have to offer to others is invaluable. Fighting back means requiring -- not hoping for -- a standard of interaction and engagement of which we are deserving -- we must not accept anything less.

Fighting back might mean reclaiming your faith, no matter if the whole world tells you that you are not a child of God. Fighting back could also mean raging against God for creating a humanity that often will not recognize us -- some of God's most beautiful, amazing creations. Fighting back may also mean dispensing with God, and empowering ourselves to take the position of ultimate authority over our own lives.

Fighting back means using the bathroom. It really, really shouldn't. But, today, it does. Fighting back means that we should view both sitting to pee and standing to pee as revolutionary, non-gendered acts! Peeing, in whatever way we want, in the bathroom that is safest for us, is fighting back. The one that is safest FOR US! No one is reading off the names of people who died of fright because a trans person peed in the stall next to them!

Our most basic and human need to urinate should not be viewed as something akin to the need of rapists and pedophiles to find their next victim.

For our own sanity, we must also recognize that every time someone asks, "What bathroom do you use?" that we are being challenged in our basic right to exist as a human being. We must recognize the micro-aggression that is present within this question.

We can fight back by living stealth -- by allowing this high profile transition chapter of our gender story to become just one part of our full life's story. A chapter we've already read -- already lived. But, let's make sure that this private aspect of who we are does not become a source of shame or fear.

People who share their gender journey openly are also fighting back. Every day, every encounter can be a new moment of opportunity, one of education, one that inspires a profound shift. Rare is the person whose life is not changed when hearing of our courageous journeys.

What do you care about? Fighting back includes giving some of your time, a few of your dollars, or an infusion of your energy into some cause you care about. Sick of gender? So am I, at times. Dig in to fight other battles too. Care about yourself and something greater than yourself.

Fighting back should mean that we stop... fighting... each... other. We, who fight with the world for the basic right to declare gender authenticity - in whatever ways we hope to manifest -- should allow others the same courtesy. We are family, which means we may have deep love for some of us -- while absolutely disliking others. But our family needs to stick together. We need to look out for each other.

Fighting back means knowing, preparing and being hyper aware that... Every. Single. Moment when we disclose our truth -- or where that truth is discovered by others -- is a truly dangerous moment. We can only guess at how many of those who have lost their lives in this last year, and the year before that, and the year before that -- how many of them lost their lives in that very moment of discovery or disclosure. That moment when our personal truth was perceived by others to be so disruptive, so foundation-shaking, that nothing short of incredible violence seemed to be a viable option.

Fighting back means that the murder of a trans woman is NEVER justified by assigning blame on her lifeless, brutalized body. There is no such thing as homicidal panic induced by seeing a woman's penis!

Fighting back means that for every single person that we ever mentor, every person we encounter who is raising a transgender child, for every single person that we work with, study with, play with, we need to make sure that they understand and respect that these moments of disclosure can put our lives on the line.

Fighting back means actually allowing our minds to spiral out of control with rage and grief when we hear about the rape, at gunpoint, of a trans boy. A child who subsequently was forced into years' of self-hating silence because his abuser threatened to tell everyone that he wasn't "really" a boy, if he spoke up.

Fighting back means railing against the false notion that the pursuit of our authentic selves is an act of deception. Our gender is not for anyone else to define. It is not between our legs. Gender is in our hearts, our minds, within our very soul. To those who would say, "But, you are not really...a man, a woman..." we should say, if the mood so strikes us, "Fuck off!"

Fighting back means showing up, hearing and participating in the reading of the names on this Transgender Day of Remembrance. Hearing their names, not so much the names given to them at birth before anyone knew anything about them, but the names that they chose for themselves to describe the reality of their identity. To honor the people -- most of them women, most with brown skin - who were brutally slaughtered, just within this past year alone... simply for living their truth.

Fighting back means reading the names of those who have died while we collectively experience the heartache, the rage and despair. To feel, for just a few moments, the terror they all surely experienced in the time leading up to their death. To hold - or even relive in their name -- just a fraction of the trauma and horror experienced by all those whose lives were so abruptly ended -- even this takes courage!

Fighting back means not letting the killers win. They take our lives. Let's do our best to not give them the satisfaction of increasing those numbers by offering our help. Let's not do their dirty work -- not serve as accessories -- by taking our own lives. Sometime, it may feel as if there is no other choice. Fighting back means that if we lose someone to suicide, that we forgive them. We love them. And we fight back for them, and for our grief.

Fighting back means that we allow ourselves to grieve for the little boy, the little girl, the little child within ourselves that was not acknowledged nor embraced. Not by others and maybe not even ourselves. It means having a clear understanding that it is not too late to honor, celebrate, and love that child. Fighting back means that we strive every day to reclaim our innocence.

And sometimes, fighting back may mean just stepping outside our home. That is assuming that we have a home -- far too many of us don't. Let me say that again. Fighting back, on some days, may simply mean that we have found the courage to step outside the door.

Fighting back means living -- and I mean really living, fighting, celebrating and breathing -- long enough to see a different day.