Every year on November 20, communities communities gather throughout the United States and internationally to commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). In the past year alone, over 268 people (see this link for more information) have been murdered because they are transgender. Just last week Gizzy Fowler, a transgender woman from Nashville, TN was found shot and killed. The local newspaper reported the murder under the headline “Man found shot to death wearing women’s clothing in north Nashville.” Sadly the newspaper’s account of this murder reflects the frequent erasure of transgender people’s gender identity in the reports of violence against them. The TDOR website reminds us that “The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.”
We celebrate communion in remembrance of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In a similar way, on TDOR we gather together as a community to mourn the deaths and murders of Trans* folks. Understanding Transgender Day of Remembrance as similar to our ritual of communion helps both celebrate the reality of transgender lives and mourn the systemic violence and hatred that caused these deaths. When we come to the communion table we partake of the bread and cup to connect both with our fellow brothers and sisters and also with the Divine Creator who shows us the way to live by following the ways of Jesus. Likewise, remembering the deaths of Transgender individuals and giving thanks for the ways in which they lived authentically is akin to our celebration of the life of Jesus in the ritual of communion.
When we remember the transgender people who were killed in the past year, we also remember that the Divine Creator participated in helping them become who they are. We actively renounce the violence that has taken their lives, and we give thanks for their courage to live into who they felt called to be. We remember these lives in an effort to expand our community of difference and use this opportunity to try and create new modes of hospitality in our communities.
This Trans Day of Remembrance your congregation is invited to honor TDOR in some way during worship to both raise the visibility of Trans* issues in the church and to include Trans* lives as part of the liturgy. You are invited to say a prayer for the lives and safety of transgender people, read all or an abbreviated list of names of those who were killed, prepare a ritual to honor and uplift the courage being transgender requires in a world where you can be murdered for simply being who you are. Jesus life, ministry, and resurrection calls us to practice radical hospitality to those on the margins. We have a clear opportunity to do follow this call on for transgender people on TDOR and every day until the violence stops.
For more information, please see the TDOR site: http://tdor.info