November can be a strange month for me. Please allow me to explain. You see for me there’s a lot going on this month. First and foremost, it is Transgender Awareness Month, and then there’s Transgender Awareness Week, which culminates in the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). In addition to all of this, I also celebrate a birthday this month, and it all makes for such a swirl of conflicting emotions – especially this year.
It is a time to celebrate trans and gender-diverse people from all walks of life for simply standing up and saying to the world (and in many cases, their parents) this is the REAL me. But at the same time, we also acknowledge those who have paid the ultimate price for living their lives authentically.
The statistics are indeed sobering. According to the Trans Murder Monitoring report, which tracks murders reported in the media each year, 320 (!) trans and gender-diverse people were killed between October 1, 2022, and September 30, 2023. An overwhelming majority of those (94%) were trans women or trans-feminine people, and most were people of color. The numbers speak for themselves, but in truth, one death is far too many.
Lives ended prematurely. Voices silenced. Dreams shattered. Brilliant and beautiful rays of light snuffed out forever.
They were never recognized as the human beings they are: a daughter, a son, a brother, a sister, a friend – a loved one to someone . . . somewhere. They were threads in the fabric of their communities, and they had hope for a better life.
Yes, we celebrate, but we also mourn, and we honor those who are no longer here to join in the celebration.
And all of this is happening at a time when there is so much noise in the air. Misinformation and disinformation fueled by hate and fear abound, and they are creating a level of interference that is making it difficult for the REAL stories about the transgender community to shine and break through the clutter.
So, what do we do as a community?
The answer to that came to me courtesy of the absolutely divine and fabulous Billy Porter who I happened to catch speaking to Seth Meyers on Late Night With Seth Meyers a few weeks back. I honestly have long since forgotten what question of Seth’s he was responding to, but his answer hit me right between the eyes,
“. . . you stand in the fullness of your authenticity.”
Stop for just a moment and let those words wash over you. For me, they elicit feelings of pride, courage, strength, forthrightness, and love. Yes, Love. Love for who you know – or better put – have always known, your authentic self to be. To be fully centered in your own sense of self. To say to the world around you, “Yes, this IS who I am.”
It is from this foundation that all of us in the trans and gender-diverse community – and our beloved allies – must continue to tell our stories. For as I have said a zillion times before, there is immense power in our stories. All our stories. From all walks of life. All ages, races, creeds, and colors. Because our human family is everywhere. It remains our most powerful tool in combating the hate, bigotry, and outright lies being spewed into the atmosphere by those who seek nothing less than our total eradication. Those who somehow fear our uniqueness, that refuse to acknowledge our shared humanity.
So as this month and week of Transgender Awareness draws to a close, let us not forget to love one another, honor those who are no longer with us, and remain steadfast in our struggle for a more just and graceful world.
Being aware of who we are is only the beginning. Standing in the fullness of your authenticity and sharing your truth with the world is what changes hearts and minds.