Tidbits from Trans Day of Remembrance
I didn’t expect to write anything today.
Honestly, I didn’t expect to do much of anything at all.
Trans Day of Remembrance is a hard one for me, every single year. It’s a sobering reminder of how close I’ve come to having a candle lit for myself.
But it’s also a reminder of why I live the way I do – loudly, fiercely, insistently. So I wrote some things.
I woke up to news that yet more of us had been murdered. Not an auspicious way to begin the day.
I started out reading and re-reading, over and over again, some of my own words from earlier – my own love letter to trans people, from earlier this very week. There was some comfort, there, in hearing something besides fear and hate and death. I poked the link out, again, in a few places; I think, perhaps, halfheartedly trying to stanch the flow of pain and grief.
It wasn’t long before I realized there was more to be said. The next wave came in the form of microfiction, a format I’ve developed a deep fondness for over the years. It’s included below, with only minor edits for typos.
Timestamp 0: Zahlnur insists that they will win this bet. I know they're a fool. Let's kick this off.
Timestamp 1 billion years: Zahlnur came by, asking if anything had evolved yet. I told them to be patient. We both have a lot riding on this wager, after all.
Timestamp 13 billion years: getting some good life forms, right on time. Zahlnur seems calmer, now, but still insists they will win.
Timestamp unknown: I'm watching the experiment too closely, I think. I've lost track of outside time. They've started forming language in there, now, and I just can't look away.
Timestamp 2002 CE: I'm just going to use the internal experiment chronology for a bit. Easier to compare. Zahlnur is insufferable. They say they have been proven right, that hate is taking over and ignorance is about to permanently prevail. Thankfully, Girnoss stepped in and refuses to call the bet. I don't think they will admit it, but they're usually in agreement with me on these things. Regardless, nice to have them pushing for more time.
Timestamp 2100 CE: I'm doing my best not to gloat. Zahlnur is off sulking. Those cheeky little fuckers actually did it... They turned it around!
Girnoss suggested we keep it running for a while, just to drive the point home.
Timestamp 360 billion years: I almost forgot to claim the prize from the wager. Certainly didn't think to write any more updates. I knew I was right, all along, but damn... To see what they did, what they accomplished, once they got the hang of it... I'm going to miss them, now that it's over.
We all will.
Zahlnur even came around – ages ago now. We are far better friends these days, but I'll never forget their concession speech to the Council.
“It was true, after all. Love did win. And seeing what they've built with it... I have to ask myself, now, how could it ever have turned out differently, in the end?”
I don’t do a lot of poetry or anything approximating it. I’m far more comfortable and confident with longer-form prose. There’s probably plenty to unpack, there, but that’s for another time. I did, however, find myself a little later on in the day, with more to say. It follows below.
I do not fear being burned;
How could I? I am the fire.
No sun is afraid of the furnace.
Send me your ignorance, to melt into wisdom.
Send me your hatred, so my love can grow hotter.
Pour into me your despair
My joy will only shine brighter.
Stand on my neck to quiet my voice,
Kill my body to bury my words -
And my unending life will scream
That much louder.
Perhaps you know this.
Perhaps, deep down, you feel it too.
Maybe that’s why you thrash so hard
The spasms of panic unfolding
Desperate to bring forth our defeat…
Because you know our victory has always been manifest.
I hope you may yet find the courage
To not leave yourself behind
As we burn.
More small things. Odds and ends, housekeeping. Eating. Just doing the necessary work to stay alive. I wound up laying down on my couch for a while, to just look out the window at the trees and birds and squirrels, and to let myself sleep.
I am tired, more often than not, these days. Sometimes, my limited capacity gets to me still. But this bothers me much less than it used to. I’ve made peace with just resting, when that is what I need most.
My brain was empty, my body exhausted, my heart raw. Resting was good. I cancelled a few small social interactions to make space to do nothing.
Nothing is something worth doing. I like to do a lot of nothing, whenever I can.
I’ve continued to read things, here and there, during the day. Other stories, voices, expressions. There is grief. Rage. Sadness. A cold, powerful, stubborn defiance. Ache. Weeping.
We feel a lot, us trans folx. Especially on a day like today.
I got a few responses during the day, too. Comments and appreciation, usually quiet and privately shared, about things I’ve written. Like the love letter. The stories.
It keeps me going.
I remember, back in the spring of 2020, entering lockdown for the rapidly-evolving COVID-19 pandemic. I was scared and nervous, but mostly about logistics. I knew something, then, on an intuitive level, that kept me going; it would be quite some time before I found words for it all, and attained the mental, intellectual clarity to fully appreciate it… but my heart knew.
She knew what had to be done, to survive hard times. Because she’s done so much of it before.
I buckled down, cuddled up into my own little quarantine bubble, and determined to find little scraps of rest and joy wherever and whenever I could.
I knew then, what took me a long time to find the words for: when we’re crowded in and suffocated by death, the only way to continue is to live.
The tiniest, simplest bits of life can keep us going for a surprisingly long time.
But this is not my wisdom. I didn’t discover this.
I didn’t arrive at a fixation on living for joy by myself.
This is the truth that Black people have spoken, sung, wept, and danced for centuries – what they know and retell, despite hundreds of years of violence and hatred and oppression and fear. I didn’t invent my own survival. I just listened to them.
This is the truth that Indigenous people still preserve and pass along, in myriad forms and variations across the entire globe, despite hundreds of years of imperialism and colonialism working ceaselessly to try to eradicate and silence their insights. I didn’t invent my own preservation. I just listened to them.
And as the sun sets on this autumn day, and I prepare for my evening rituals and imagine going to bed early, I think about joy.
I think about living. What life is really about, what it means. Why it hurts so much to see life being extinguished all around me, every day – sometimes fast, sometimes slow.
I think about love. And I find myself returning to a quote that I’ve cherished in my heart for several years, now:
Some people mistake being loving for being a sap. Quite the contrary, the most loving people are often the most fierce and the most acutely armed for battle... for they care about preserving and protecting poetry, symphonic song, ideas, the elements, creatures, inventions, hopes and dreams, dances and holiness... those goodly endeavors that cannot be allowed to perish from this earth, else humanity itself would perish...
- Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.
I need to rest, now. Because tomorrow we return to battle.