The Transgender Day of Remembrance will be observed this Thursday, Nov 20. To commemorate the day, GLAAD will be blogging about issues relevant to the Day of Remembrance throughout the week.
We asked transgender people and allies to respond to the question "What does the Transgender Day of Remembrance mean to you?" This response is from Helen Boyd.
Helen Boyd (right) and her partner, Betty Crow.
Helen Boyd is the nationally acclaimed author of My Husband Betty and She's Not the Man I Married. Helen's writing has appeared in the edited anthologies Nobody Passes and Crossing Sexual Boundaries: Transgender Journeys, Uncharted Paths. She also manages the blogs (en)gender and trans group blog.
Since 2000, Helen has run an online group for couples, and has spoken at many trans conferences, including the IFGE, First Event, Fantasia Fair, Southern Comfort, the Chicago Be-All, and also at special events, like Trans Issues Week at Yale University. Helen has been an outspoken advocate for transgender people and the partners and families of transgender people.
The below was written by Helen for this year's events, you can also read her post from 2007's Transgender Day of Remembrance.
I once went to a cremation in Indonesia, which is a loud, lovely affair; people wear white and they make a lot of noise and walk in circles and doubleback on the path to where the cremation will occur. They do all this in order to confuse the evil spirits, who are apparently only capable of traveling a straight path, and so keep them from bothering the soul of the recently dead.
The fire itself is so hot, and hot in Indonesia is not nothing, because it's already so hot, and all the running back and forth and making noise gets everyone even hotter, and sweatier, and then there is hunger and thirst, and people eat and drink.
When I saw Susan Stryker speak recently, she talked about Ghost Dance, and like her, I don't want to bother anyone else's culture to make my point, except to say: transing, as she posits, is about moving, about assembly, self-assembly and assemblies of people, which is why, in some ways, it makes perfect sense that the Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day about death. Death is transing a boundary we don't understand, a barrier we approach, each of us, alone. But as a community we gather, we lament, we tell stories of each other and we make loud noises; sometimes we double-back and we certainly don't walk in straight lines, do we?
Keep our recently deceased free of evil spirits. Wear white and make noise. Celebrate their lives, and your own.