Thursday, November 20, 2008

10th Annual Day of Remembrance

Today is the 10th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. I especially want to urge those of you who have been organizing for same-sex marriage in recent weeks to attend your local DOR event tonight...Because it's a question of solidarity. Because it's a question of intersecting identities.

Because I've got your back and I need to know that you've got mine.

DOR is about honoring the lives of the community members we lost in the past year at the hands of hate and transphobia. It's about celebrating their lives and acknowledging their deaths.

Today, I am 12 days away from beginning hormone therapy, and I feel a tremendous sense of displacement. In addition to the 23 years of work it's taken to get to this point, I've spent the last several months coming out to family and friends about my plans and process, assuaging people's fears about "who I will become" once more testosterone enters my system, about whether all of this is really necessary, about whether I'm bringing a stigma upon myself that could easily be avoided.

About whether I will be safe.

It's a real, legitimate fear--this worry over safety. And while there's something very real about the fear-induced hate towards visibly trans bodies, this body of mine has never felt safe. It's felt wrong, it's felt weighed down, it's felt surreal-ly unknown, it's felt painful as hell, it's felt numb, it's felt bigger than I can handle, it's felt freakishly foreign, it's even felt like the excruciating trade-off for dual insights.

But it's never felt safe.

And yet, I've made it work for me. I've dwelled here for 23 years, and I've made it work. Now that I'm finally taking a stand for myself and owning my right to feel at home in my skin, I feel displaced.

I think it's because this entire process involves so much uprooting. It involves tearing up foundations that really weren't ever doing much service to anyone, and in so doing, risking the possibility that a new framework may never be laid. This is the case with body, with family, and with community.

With body, I am letting go of what I've made work for so long, and I'm banking on the fact that the visions of self I hold in my mind's eye are about to manifest. With my family, I am letting go of the need for their approval and understanding, putting faith in the hope that they will come around as time progresses. With community, I am letting go of my pre-op, pre-t trans identity, of my woman of color public hologram (which depends heavily on the light, angle, and context in which I'm viewed). I'm leaping out and hoping that I will find a healthy trans masculinity and a community of folks with whom I can have a healthy, growing relationship.

This journey is a scary one, but the risks are not really new. At worst, I am opening myself up to ridicule, alienation, hate, and death. At best, though, I have a shot at freedom; I have a chance to finally be able to breathe.

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