Happy Monday, my friends! We continue today drawing inspiration from the words of Bishop Gene Robinson. Today’s point rings particularly strong: “Number five, if you want to know God, work with the poor and the dispossessed, the despised and discriminated against, the weak, and those who never benefited from a Sewanee-type education.”Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, often known as “TDOR” for short. Having celebrated Transgender Awareness Week last week, today we turn to remembering the many, many Trans lives lost. The sad reality is that the Trans community is under constant attack from many sides. Conservatives are literally trying to write and legislate the Trans community out of existence through a disgusting combination of book bans (Ohio HB68), teaching restrictions (HB68 again), draconian bans on gender-affirming care for minors (yep, HB68 again), drag bans which are so badly written as to require people to wear so many garments of one “sex” (Ohio HB245), and bathroom bills to limit where and under what circumstances Trans people can use the bathroom (Ohio HB183). The Trans community also faces attacks from uninformed and misinformed people as well as people who know better, but have turned to blatant lies across social media, the internet, and in person. Parents of Trans youth have been targeted with false labels of “child abusers” for seeking gender-affirming care for their children. Trans people of all ages have been singled out, attacked, and killed for living authentically as who they are. And as if all this wasn’t enough already, the Trans community is being attacked from elements within the Queer and progressive communities. Cis-gender Queer people have argued that Trans people are holding LGB people back from full equity or that Trans people aren’t even really part of the Queer community. Perhaps you’ve heard of trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs)? Unfortunately, many of them would call themselves Queer.
As one would rightly assume the economic, material, social, health, and spiritual outcomes of this level of hate and routine attack are significant. While numbers vary due to underreporting and discrimination, estimates from the Williams Center at UCLA put the number of Transgender people at or above the age of 13 in the United States at approximately 1.6 million of which 20% are 13-17 years old. HRC reports that around 29% of all transgender adults live at or below the poverty line and that number goes up to 39% for Black Transgender adults and to 48% for Latinx Transgender adults. Over half of all Trans adults report being a victim of intimate partner violence and an almost as high amount being survivors of sexual assault. The list unfortunately goes on and includes the outright murder of Transgender people, many of whom are deadnamed and misgendered in news articles and stories.
We’ve established that the Trans community is under daunting attack, but what can we do? Those of us who are cisgender must speak up, must amplify the voices, names, and stories of Trans people. We need to use our platforms to remind cis people that the Trans community is suffering and to educate cis people about what being Trans really means. Sometimes that means speaking ourselves and other times it means being quiet and getting out of the way of courageous Trans people who speak their truth regardless of the consequences.
As people of faith, we have to reinforce for everyone that Trans people are created in the image and likeness of a God who is so much bigger than human constructions of gender and sexuality. We have to announce and proclaim that Trans people are not flawed creations and that God created them to be the beautiful Trans humans that they are. We have to put aside fear and cut through the noise of partisan arguments based in lies, errors, and misinformation. We have to educate ourselves and ask genuine questions to knowledgeable people. And we have to hold ourselves accountable to the times that we will mess up.
Today or tonight say a prayer, light a candle, hold the Trans people you know close, send good thoughts and warm light out to the world where people continue to suffer simply by being who they were created to be.
How will you pass Trans Day of Remembrance? Who are you holding close?
Let us pray: “God full of mercy, bless the souls of all who are in our hearts on this Transgender Day of Remembrance. We call to mind today young and old, of every race, faith, and gender experience, who have died by violence. We remember those who have died because they would not hide, or did not pass, or did pass, or stood too proud. Today we name them: the reluctant activist; the fiery hurler of heels; the warrior for quiet truth; the one whom no one really knew.
As many as we can name, there are thousands more whom we cannot, and for whom no Kaddish may have been said. We mourn their senseless deaths, and give thanks for their lives, for their teaching, and for the brief glow of each holy flame. We pray for the strength to carry on their legacy of vision, bravery, and love.
And as we remember them, we remember with them the thousands more who have taken their own lives. We pray for resolve to root out the injustice, ignorance, and cruelty that grow despair. And we pray, God, that all those who perpetrate hate and violence will speedily come to understand that Your creation has many faces, many genders, many holy expressions.
Blessed are they, who have allowed their divine image to shine in the world. Blessed is God, in Whom no light is extinguished.”
(Written by Rabbi Reuben Zellman for Trans Day of Remembrance 2006)
Blessings on your weeks, my friends! Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
 “Sewanee” is short for Sewanee: The University of the South, the undergraduate university both Gene and I attended.  If you missed the Monday Moment installments on Gene’s other points, you can read them at www.loveboldly.net/monday-moment.