“When I was 16 years old, I went on my very first date. I was young and cute and had blonde streaks I copied from one of Destiny’s Child’s early videos. Adrian was tall and lanky and the color of fresh sugar cookies. He was the first man to ever ask me out.” In a letter of blessings to her 16-year-old self for Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), prominent transgender writer and activist Janet Mock remembers this moment in the early days of her transition.
“Like any other first date, Adrian didn’t really see the girl he was hoping to woo.”
After a dinner at the Spaghetti Factory, a romantic stroll on Ala Moana Beach and a kiss, Adrian asked Janet, “When can I see you again?”
“You may not want to see me again,” Janet stammered. “I’m not like other girls, I’m in transition, like, I’m waiting to get my sex change.” She describes this moment of coming out transgender to her first date as the time she stopped being a girl, and became a woman.
He pulled away instantly. His face turned from the sweet, soft-eyed expression I had seen all night to one that was rough and suited not for a girl but for men in battle. It was the first time in my life that I felt physically afraid…
Heartbroken, I opened the door to his car. I felt rejected and went to my room, crying over how unlucky I was, how no one would ever love me because I was different. Why did I have to be this way? I plead to everyone and no one.
Now, more than a decade later, I look at how lucky I was to get to walk out of that car. I now know the world can sadly be a cruel place. I could have been hit or beat or killed.
Between January 1, 2008 and April 30, 2013, 1,233 trans people in 59 countries have been murdered. A map documenting each of these murders is located at the Trans Respect Verses Transphobia Worldwide Research Project (TVT Project). The 2013 update at the TVT Project “shows a significant/constant increase in reported killings of trans people over the last five years. In 2008, 148 cases were reported, in 2009 218 cases, in 2010 229 cases, in 2011 264 cases, in 2012 296 cases and in the first four months of 2013 already 78 cases.”
Courtney O’Donnell, a transgender actress, advocate, and writer, has compiled a reporters list of the trans people killed in 2013. The official list of transgender people being memorialized in 2013, read at many services worldwide, is located at the International Transgender Day of Remembrance website.
“The names continue to scroll in my heart, and the hearts of other trans people, their loved ones and allies. I can’t forget their faces.” Janet Mock then pronounces a blessing in the letter to her 16-year-old self. “They remind me in an instant how lucky I was to get out of that car (and many others to come) as I navigated my journey to womanhood.”
We invite you as people and communities of faith to participate in Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on Wednesday, November 20. Will you commit to holding a TDOR event at your church, to attending a TDOR event in your local community or to incorporating TDOR into a worship service? Chris Paige, executive director at Transfaith, has prepared an excellent organizer’s toolkit for use by people and communities of faith to prepare for TDOR. Please add a comment to this post with your plans or contact us (email@example.com) and we’ll comment this post for you. MLP Executive Director Alex Patchin McNeill will be speaking at the TDOR memorial service on Wednesday, November 20 at Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, OH.
“Transgender Day of Remembrance is about never forgetting,” concludes Janet Mock, “never ever forgetting that Gwen, Stephanie, Ukea, Shelley and hundreds of others are you. You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you’ve been.”
A Prayer for Transgender Day of Remembrance 2013
of all the vast varieties of humankind,
Help us to move beyond
of an either / or mentality
to the inclusiveness
of an all and every
way of thinking.
Move us beyond binary definitions
to the mystery and complexity of
Your infinite creativity
As we pause to remember those
because of their
all encompassing humanity
open hearts that need to hear
souls that need to know
and minds that need to see
that there are
nor Your creation.
A Prayer by Vickey Gibbs.
Photo: Janet Mock from JanetMock.com.