There is so much talk about Black transgender women and death that I compiled an appendix in In Remembrance of Me, Bearing Witness to Transgender Tragedy on how we can be better allies to them. For all the talk about the statistics, allies (other trans folk included) are often almost entirely irrelevant to transgender women of color too much of the time.
But, if you are short on time, just start with her video profile from The Root, where she breaks it down in terms of how numerous factors conspire to target Black transgender women:
Diamond is also the executive director of Black Trans Women, Inc. which is a national organization that provides one great way to support Black transgender women broadly. Still, as I name in the book, researching where Black transgender women gather in your local area is another important step.
This work has certainly framed my understanding of Transgender Day of Remembrance for years and so it also influenced my work on In Remembrance of Me, Bearing Witness to Transgender Tragedy in some significant ways. Chapter 2 draws from the first article (by Chris Paige) and Chapter 3 from the second (by J Mase III). I used the third article (by Angelica Ross) to frame the appendix on supporting Black transgender women.
As a trans person of color, it would be really easy for me to put myself in the center of TDOR. I could talk about the street harassment I get as a visibly gender-nonconforming person. I could talk about all the times I have been made to feel unwelcome and physically unsafe. But the reality is that even though I am constantly at risk of criminalization just for being black and male, I am still less likely to be murdered than my trans woman/transfeminine counterparts.
Remember that some of us are living in fear for our lives every day — while many of us in the LGBTQ community don’t think twice about our physical presence in the world and what it may inspire in others. Make sure your efforts at inclusion are not merely symbolic gestures.
I drew on these two articles from J Mase III in creating chapter 3 of In Remembrance of Me, Bearing Witness to Transgender Tragedy. Mase calls for each of us to reflect deeply on our commitments around and relationships to all that Transgender Day of Remembrance stands for. This is a fundamental step in coming into right relationship with this important day and all that it stands for.
In Remembrance of Me, Bearing Witness to Transgender Tragedy unpacks deep wisdom around themes such as grief, self-care, repentance, and our ancestral traditions. Mid-way through the body of that project (chapter 5), I pause to consider the wisdom offered by Dr Koach Baruch Frazier in his May 2019 offering, “Resilience Through the Practice of Lament,” at Speak Torah to Power.
I first met K.B. when I was visiting St Louis for a conference. It was a privilege to hear him talk about how he got involved in the Ferguson uprising and how he and his folk would hold vigil with the drum. All this to say that Dr Frazier knows a thing or two about lament.
The YouTube video of his presentation is offered here with gratitude to Dr. Frazier for his wisdom-sharing.
Dr. Koach Baruch Frazier is currently a student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, near Philadelphia, PA.
My friend and co-conspirator wrote this invocation for the 2013 online Transgender Day of Remembrance service that we did as TDOR Unite. That project was co-sponsored by Transfaith, the Trans People of Color Coalition, the Trans Latin@ Coalitions, and The UU Church of the Larger Fellowship.
[A]nd when he had given thanks, he broke [the bread] and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11:24 NIV
As I compile these reflections, transgender communities have been holding vigils against anti-transgender violence on November 20 for twenty years now. That is long enough to have noticed patterns—not only about who is most frequently being killed, but also about how the rest of us are reacting to those deaths.
There are no quick fixes to the many factors involved in transgender tragedy, from intimate partner violence to economic insecurity. From gender to race to religion, there are many forces conspiring against us. There is so much work to be done. We feel so human and powerless in the face of it all. The temptations are many from going numb to turning away, from giving in to despair to sacrificing ourselves for the cause. Spiritual traditions have always been a rich resource for facing such overwhelming odds.
It’s finally here–Book #3 for those of you who are keeping track! After several unexpected, but important delays, In Remembrance of Me: Bearing Witness to Transgender Tragedy is now available on Amazon and making its way into other venues. I don’t even have my physical copy in hand yet, but while we wait for the photo ops to begin, here is the Table of Contents.
OtherWise Christian Ambassadors are transgender (or OtherWise) Christians who are available in your local area to share both OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Liberationand their own stories and testimonies. I believe that books are important, but our communities also need the opportunity to be in real-life community with folk who can tell their own stories. Every OtherWise Christian Ambassador is also authorized to sell my books.
I’ve known Dawn Sorensen for roughly 20 years from LGBT+ Christian circles. We go way back to when there was a lot less language available for people like us who don’t quite fit into “male” and “female” expectations exactly. Dawn identifies as non-binary or “OtherWise” and answers to any pronoun that is offered with respect and good intentions.
Dawn lives in the Boston area and has a presentation based on OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation, which has already been tested in their local community. It is ready to roll out (complete with power point). Meanwhile, Dawn enjoys preaching, teaching, designing liturgy and worship spaces (for example, the altar), and leveraging technology to benefit the community. They also like working with children and youth of all ages.
Dawn is willing to travel, more or less, throughout the New England area as their schedule allows. Reach out to invite Dawn into your community. You’ll be supporting me, the book(s), and Dawn’s ministry. Don’t forget to compensate Dawn for their time with you, if they are leading an event or preaching in your congregation. Their time and expertise are valuable.
Well, anyone following this blog knows that I love the Bible Bash podcast. So last night, I was home from traveling and futzing in the kitchen, listening to their latest episode. Well, imagine my surprise when I heard my name as I was coming back to the kitchen from a quick visit to the basement!