The following reflection was written by Cindy Asher (she/her/hers) after she attended an annual event held in Cincinnati.
"Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. The week before TDOR, people and organizations (including LOVEBoldly) around the country participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise visibility for transgender people and address issues the community faces.(https://www.glaad.org/tdor)
I was aware of this observance last year (2018), but this year (2019) was the first year that I attended a local remembrance service. The event in Cincinnati, OH was hosted at The Woodward Theater (https://www.woodwardtheater.com/) and was a collaborative effort of many people, groups, and organizations. Those organizers estimate that over 200 people were in attendance Wednesday.
So you might be asking yourself, why did Cindy go to this event? Why does she care and why should I care? All of these are valid questions.
I am a queer cisgender woman who is married to a transgender man. It goes without saying that we have had various experiences (good and bad) as a couple. I have also had the honor to witness as my husband has navigated his transition and how the world around him has responded.
It is important for us to not only reflect and mourn on the lives of transgender people who have been lost to violence, but to gather with our local community and build and maintain relationships with each other. There is always a great strength and comfort to be found in others who have shared experiences in life.
For me, the most powerful moment of the night came from the first speaker, Yemaya Rose. In the midst of sharing her transgender experience as a woman of color who has endured violence against her and survived she said that she is a part of "a world that would sooner see me extinct than see me thriving." It absolutely shattered my heart and made me feel overwhelmingly sick. I have said in the past that I want Nick and I (as a couple and individually) "to be celebrated not
tolerated", but I have never experienced the reality where extinction is what others desire. The truth is, I never will experience someone wanting me extinct because I am white and cisgendered. I have privileges because of being white and cisgendered and those privileges afford me safety that Yemaya Rose and many others will never have. Therefore I must use my voice, power, positions, etc. to illuminate the transgender experiences of many, especially women of color. I am honestly not sure what all the next steps will be and what might be in the future for me as I strive to illuminate others’ transgender experiences, but I cannot be faced with the knowledge and do nothing.
The third speaker of the night was Kataleya Giles and she shared about her life and the transgender community here in Cincinnati. For Nick, Kataleya Giles was the crux of the evening when she mentioned that the divisions amongst the transgendered community are ridiculous. I asked him to elaborate on this and he shared that he has recently become very aware of the privileges he is now given because he is “far enough along in his transition to ‘pass’ as a white cisgendered man.” This passing experience allows him a different level of acceptance and safety in his everyday life that many, especially transgender women of color, do not have. This knowledge has caused him to reevaluate himself as he moves through his everyday life to ensure the safety of those in his community who are not safe.
Although our hearts were directed towards similar reflections and actions, we each have a lot of work to do personally and in our community. We ask for your prayers as our reflections, actions, and experiences continue to grow and teach us. We also ask that you consider how you can be of service to the LGBTQ+ people in your local communities. Together may we all be sanctuaries of safety and love."