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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Guest Post From Laura-Ann

Here's a TDOR guest post, with an American Thanksgiving theme, from my friend, Laura-Ann.
Local Sacramento musician and trans-activist KC Shane sang a beautiful, heart-rending song of hope at the TDOR service held at the Loomis Basin UCC on Sunday, November 18th, and at Sacramento's primary TDOR service at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on Saturday the 17th. The link to it on YouTube is: 
I heard it at the Loomis service, which was a small TDOR, compared to the one at Trinity Episcopal; we had only about 30 people attending, but it was no less moving and significant for my life-partner Pauline, and myself. 2018 has already matched, if not broken, all previous records for the number of homicides of transgender people, both in the United States (27), and worldwide (310). I had the great honor to be one of the liturgists at the Loomis TDOR, and I led the reading of this poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Leader: "I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground. So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind."
All: "Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned With lilies and with laurel they go but I am not resigned."
Leader: "Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you. Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust. A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew."
All: "A formula, a phrase remains, but the best is lost."
Leader: "The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love, They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve."
All: "More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world."
Leader: "Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave. Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind."
All: "Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned."

I believe that all human beings deserve to be defined by their deeds, the beauty and love that dwells in their souls, their character, and not by their gender identity, skin color, ethnicity, country of origin, age, sex, socio-economic status, or level of education. We are all in this together, dependant on each other for something, whether it be the food grown by our farmers, the water that is purified and delivered to our homes by municipal water district workers, or the maintenance of the roads we drive on (what I spent 21 years of my working life doing); every human who lives in our society uses some product or service that was grown, manufactured, maintained, or provided by someone else. 

The poet John Donne said this in his "Meditation XVII", 400 years ago: "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee". We are all here for such a short time, less than an eyblink in the long, long tale that will be the history of humanity on this blessed, beautiful Earth. We have been given so many gifts, of which love, compassion, and friendship are perhaps the greatest, yet so much of our world and the societies therein are still mired in warfare, hatred, greed, and senseless violence.

I weep for the 27 transgender women murdered in my country this year. Each of them a mirror that reflects that aspect of who I am that is called "gender identity". Each of those women knew the fear, disorientation, and depression of unresolved gender dysphoria for some part of their lives, as did Pauline and I, and as all of my friends in the River City Gems have known it, whether they are part-time or in full gender transition. Will these murders continue to escalate year by year, until everyone in the trans community is driven back into hiding, or hounded out of our own country, or we all lie dead on mortuary slabs? Or will the good people of the world eventually reclaim the moral high ground, and somehow turn around this societal death-spiral into darkness that our nation seems to be descending into?

Will there ever come a November when all I have to plan for is Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving, and the Transgender Day of Remembrance will be a thing of the past? I hope never to forget the sacrifice of the hundreds of transgender men and women that have lost their lives to violence, hatred, trans-phobia, and racism in this sorry world we are living in. But I pray for the day that I can forget about having to save the date for an annual TDOR service. I pray for the day when no more little kids, who are living somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum, are beaten, bullied, repressed, and tormented by their schoolmates, their teachers, or even by their own parents and siblings, just because they are "different". I pray for the day when all trans people, of whatever age, race, or nation of residence, simply live in joy, without fear, and with as much acceptance in their societies as their cis-gender brothers and sisters. Namaste to all, and I hope for a happy Holiday season for everyone.

Love and hugs,
Laura-Ann Charlot
Sacramento, CA

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