This year, 226 trans persons—most of whom were trans women of color—lost their lives in the battle to live them with truth. We mourn them today; in various queer community centers across the world the names will all be read aloud to rooms of heads hung heavy with with that royalty of all remorse: It could've been me, and it almost was. This is our holiday. Society has afforded us no other affect of pride or culture. The LGBT movement, founded by trans women of color, has been hocked piecemeal by white cisgender assimilations like Dan Savage, who touts the liberating salacity of his non-monogamous marriage with one hand and blames black folk for Prop 8 with the other. And bullies transgender teenagers—I guess with one of his feet. Madonna took vogueing and every year flax-seed feminists flock to Michigan to celebrate the opportunity to listen to "feminist music"—a genre which thrived in part due to a trans woman's direct involvement—without those scary trans women.
The only thing in the box they allow us to keep is the shipping invoice of all the fun, bright and beautiful things they've taken from us—and the mess they leave behind when you're done unwrapping them. I say "they" because this is a funerary occasion—in a coercively assimilated society we must all accept on the surface that all harm and suffering in the world is created by unknowable spooks and specters. It was just society, man that held me at gunpoint on my way home at 1 in the morning because a visible garter betrayed an imagined willingness to fellate men in uniform. If we believe and clap our hands very hard they just might find the people fear what they don't understand that escaped from the zoo and heckled my partner to tears at the bus stop.
You may have this day to forget. Drop everything and let the love in—you think "everyone should just be themselves." You love Orange is the New Black. You love my eyebrows, my honey's bangs.
I will take this day to remember. Every time you looked over the stall to see if I was peeing standing up. Every time you slyly slipped that "I didn’t have anything to worry about, it’s not like I could get pregnant," and then throw your head back like some hyena woman hallucination. Every time you disinvited me from holiday gatherings—when you knew I had no place else to go—because there was gonna maybe gonna be “that guy” who “didn’t get it”.
I will clutch these moments, this murder by numbers, to my chest like a damsel’s trinket before the joust. When we pry apart the prison cells and burn the badges of wannabe Die Hards, I will think of back on you telling me my breasts will never be real like yours. I will remember your looking up from your laptop to ask me about castration fetish.
When the judges, prosecutors and police sicced on CeCe MacDonald, Monica Jones and Chelsea Manning recant and resign in the face of righteous civil upheaval, I will remember you pouting when I asked you not to call me “dude” or “bro” in front of other people.
You forgot, or were distracted. We actually do not need cis gays murdering brown people for oil abroad or collaborating in crackdowns on homelessness and sex work for “everyone to just be themselves.” This started as a DIY design for disarming avenues of systemic violence against trans women and people of color at the hands of a colonialist patriarchy. And it got “better” as time went on.
I will remember. These names I take in sacred silence are 226 broken promises that I, that we all, must make right.
And if I live to see those and the thousand other broken promises—I probably won’t—I will take your hand and pull you from the crowd. Our eyes will align and you will gaze at my wounds unswayed by your emphatic yearly adornment of a rainbow boa and the inspirational gay marriage photo gallery in your web browser.
There will be no words, but you will know: I did it—we did it—without you. It is now your turn to remember.
Now get your camera. Here comes what’s left of the Wells Fargo float.