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In reclaiming the body from the biomedical syndicate as well as from the naturopathic types I have been dealing with, the best way I know of recovering the body is movement. It is only when I am dancing that I inhabit all of my body. When I was in academia, that life would drive me up into my mouth, and all of me would be huddled behind my teeth, and I would have to remind myself that I have this space to stretch out in. When I am totally in my body, I know it because when I run into people, all of me remembers them.[i]
Re—Member: To bring back together again and Again and AGAIN…
Instead of a moment of silence
I want to raise my voice
In concert with all those who have been slain by (Transphobic, Anti-Black, Xenophobic, State-Sanctioned…) violence.
Yes, they’ve been doomed to everlasting lifelessness.
Unable to breathe again
So forgotten unless we Remember.
Today we take time to honor and remember those Trans* and Gender Non-Conforming warriors who are no longer with us in the flesh. Many had their lives ripped from them prematurely, violently, egregiously and what other words can we use to describe such instances? […silence…] We light candles. We call out their names. We engrave their names on scrolls. We carry them with us. We remember them and as we remember them we also remember ourselves.
I wanted to write a piece for Transgender Day of Remembrance for The Feminist Wire and it turned out to be perfect timing as we at The Feminist Wire have been honoring and remembering one of the most fierce Black Feminists, Toni Cade Bambara. As we remember her, we also remember ourselves. As we recall the wisdoms that she left for us writers, thinkers, organizers, artists, cultural workers, people who want to be free of heteropatriarchy, racism, classism, capitalism, and…She asks us to remember our power and how
…writing could be a way to engage in struggle, it could be a weapon, a real instrument of transformation.
I use my words today to remember our Transcestors, but I ask that we not only remember them as victims, that we not only think about what they lost, what was unjustly taken from them—life—I encourage us to remember and imagine today, the lives that they lived and the lives that we live, Trans* and Gender Non-Conforming folk, I ask that we remember the fullness of our very own lives even amidst such a troubling present characterized by the wars being fought on so many of our bodies without concern for our desires and dreams.
I think that it is important that we remember not just how Venus Xtravaganza was violently murdered, we must also remember how much she loved her skin, ALL of it, Honey! We must remember her laughter. We must remember that there were moments of pleasure and joy in her life, and she lived that too.
On this Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014, let us remember to remember that this day is set aside to acknowledge and honor our queer kin who have moved on, but we cannot only remember them as the dead and dying.
Our Transecestors gave us LIFE! They gave us life on ballroom floors, in classrooms, in prisons, on the block, in the bars, on park benches, on the train and… Let us remember to remember (and if we only have our imagination, let us use that) the glorious laughter of queens sitting and chatting together holding space for one another. Let us remember to remember the stone butches walking heads high, three-piece suits, suspenders, hats tilted—she was the man and everyone knew it.
Let us remember to remember today, along with the sadness, the great fun that was had and the love that was made, all the smiles and the clever uses made of shade.
Let us to remember to remember today the fullness of our Trancestors’ humanity which cannot not fully be captured by the multitude of sentences of premature death. It was always also FIERCE and COURAGEOUS living.
Let us remember our Transecestors and their desires for movement, to be fully in their bodies, knowing that we can all tap into and benefit from those desires. Perhaps it is just a moment on the dance floor when everything is on and no one can tell her that she is anything other than mighty real. Imagine what powerful exchanges happen in those moments and the transformative power unleashed as Bambara talks about the way being present in her body allows her to fully remember others. I imagine these moments; I remember to remember these moments today.
I am grateful today for my Trans*, Gender Non-Conforming and Black Feminist ancestors who guide me in a life of becoming, everyday. I know that who I am is also bound up in who they were.
Today I remember to remember the fullness of Transcestors’ lives.
I close with a piece of wisdom given to us by our recent Transcestor, revolutionary communist Leslie Feinberg:
I’m so sorry it’s had to be this hard. But if I hadn’t walked this path, who would I be? At the moment I felt at the center of my own life, the dream still braided like sweet-grass in my memory. I remembered Duffy’s challenge. Imagine a world worth living in, a world worth fighting for. I closed my eyes and allowed my hopes to soar.[ii]
I ask that today we remember our Transcestors that have gone on as we remember ourselves. Let us remember Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson as we also remember Kingston Farady and Laverne Cox. Let us remember Gwen Araujo and Sakia Gunn as we also remember C. Riley Snorton and Matt Richardson. Let us remember Larry King and Nireah Jonson as we also remember CeCe McDonald and Tiq Milan. Let us remember Rita Hester and Dwayne Jones as we also remember Holiday Simmons and Sasha Alexander…You see my point is that as my video ends with an incomplete list of all those we have lost, it is important to keep in mind and in heart that we are still here—we are still coming.
Today as we remember our Transcestors we also remember and affirm ourselves.
I invite you all to use the comment section to remember your Transcestors who have gone on and those who are still with us.
[i] Toni Cade Bambara, Deep Sightings & Rescue Missions: Fiction, Essays, and Conversations (Random House Digital, Inc., 2009), 241–242.
[ii] Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues (ReadHowYouWant.com, Limited, 2010), 301.
Dr. Kai M. Green is a writer, scholar, poet, filmmaker, abolitionist, feminist and whatever else it takes to make a new and more just world. He is invested in developing models of healthy and loving Black masculinities. As a leader, teacher, and brother he is committed to raising consciousness around self-care, self-love, sexual health, emotional health, sexual and state violence, healthy masculinities, and Black feminism. He is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Sexuality Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University.