Transgender Day of Remembrance

Tonight, for the first time, I attended a Transgender Day of Remembrance memorial service.  To be frank, I was somewhat apprehensive about going—for a couple of reasons.  Social anxiety is always at the top of my list of excuses for avoiding public events, although I’m improving in this area.  I find myself able to do things I have never been able to do before, like walk into a room filled with strangers as if I actually belong.  Last month, I participated in my first transgender support-group meeting.   I went there alone,  without knowing anyone, and found the experience as transformative as it was nerve-wracking.  So, yes—I was nervous before setting out tonight.  All the old familiar scenarios of embarrassing myself in public decided to play with my head beforehand.  And yet, tonight’s battle with my well-worn anxiety issues was not so much about walking into a roomful of strangers and embarrassing myself….it was more about the guilt I’ve internalized for my entire life.   I was afraid those guilty feelings might be triggered by the service,  reminding me that I had come out late in life—and that sometimes I still feel like an outsider among the people I most identify with.  I guess it’s even simpler than that.  When I hear the accounts of so many young people who’ve had the courage to come out and live their unique lives openly and proudly in their communities (making themselves targets for physical assault, among other terrible things) it fills me with a certain sense of failure.  And shame.  I feel I don’t measure up.  So that’s where my inner child was huddled tonight as I listened to the somber and humbling roll-call of names of those trans sisters and trans brothers whose lives were snuffed out just for wanting to be happy.  But all those inwardly directed feelings evaporated as the names of the murdered accumulated,  filling the room with their presence, these singular lives hovering above us as one.  I felt a sense of community that I have never felt before, a sense of belonging—a need to belong.  Going to this even was important to me—to show my solidarity, to show that I am in this now, to show my kinship with the others who attended…but most importantly, to show my respect to those who were murdered.  It was an emotional evening,  filled with the sad and unnerving knowledge of all these horrific deaths—and the details were particularly horrific.  All these beautiful people, young and old, who died such brutal and lonely deaths….It’s hard to say anything else that matters.  But I wanted to write this down tonight, before I go to sleep.  I wanted to mark this day….I needed to mark this day.  I need to remember this day.