Tuesday, November 20, 2007

On Day of Remembrance

We trans people are heroes. The doctors among us, the lawyers among us, the artists, the activist, teachers, and parents:

All of us.

It’s not what we do that makes us heroes. It’s how we do.

We trans people dare to dream. We dare to envision our better selves, and set out to create them.

THIS is heroic.

I spent so much of my early life fighting against stereotypes. Growing up brown in a conservative part of St. Louis, MO, I fought hard. I fought against the conflations among South Asians, Middle Easterners, and Native Americans, I fought against the exotification of my people, I fought against the accusations of Satan worship hurled at my Hindu community. I fought hard like a tornado tearing through a Midwest town, and when the storms of my indignation had settled, I found that I had left nothing but destruction in my wake. I had never stopped to imagine the future I hoped to create. I had never stopped to envision something better.

Coming out as trans forced me to do something different. For me, this process has taken vision. For my own well-being—indeed, for my own survival—I have had to learn to focus, not on the parts of myself that I want to destroy, but on the ideal self I seek to create.

It takes vision to see beyond that which is physically present—to see a fuller truth beyond tangible images—and to mold that vision into corporeal form.

Our bodies embody vision for the future.

We trans people are heroes because this very act of BEING provides leadership and direction for the future of social justice movements.

This question “How do we keep the ‘T’ in LGBT?” is particularly salient at a time when that T seems to keep getting dropped…when gay and lesbian marriage rights take precedent over our basic health care, and when protections against discrimination based on gender identity become easy points to bargain down.

But this question “How do we keep the ‘T’ in LGBT?” might be answered with more questions. “How do we keep the ‘L’ as in Living in poverty, the ‘G’ as in Growing up with a disability the ‘B’ as in Born brown into a system of white supremacy, the ‘T’ as in Trying to apply for amnesty, how do we keep the LGB & T in LGBT?”

The needs of our LGBT community are as diverse as the members within it. It is up to us trans people—and us allies—to lead our communities in a shift. Little by little, we can stop fighting against, and start building towards. No doubt, the futures we can imagine drop no letter for the ostensible gain of the others. In the futures we can imagine no human is “illegal” or “alien.” In the futures we can imagine, community members—not prison systems—hold people accountable for harms caused to a community.

We trans people, we heroes, we leaders—WE must keep daring to dream. Though we continue to lose, though we continue to struggle and hurt, we find compassion and the will to carry on when we can look at our present situation and see beyond it—when we can look at that reflection of our society and see, not a mirror image, but the future we want to create.

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