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TDOR and the Days Following. (Elizabeth Jenkins-New Orleans, LA)


Slouching on my leaf green leather overstuffed chair, feet up on the matching English Pub ottoman, my feet comfortable in faux fur lined leather moccasins, my favorite with the pink strap ties, I rest. I wear washer worn jeans, butter stained pink tee-shirt, and jean jacket of unremembered origin, comfortable after church, where church wear was the opposite of this casual dress, black leather heeled boots, black and black and black skirt, blouse and coat, but a bright blood red brocade made scarf I found at Goodwill. Is it from India? It's hung up now so it won't wrinkle, and my church clothes put away. Contrasts make life interesting.

But I am exhausted after three very complicated days full of sorrow, responsibility, and Kennedy Assassination Anniversary shows; and then fantasy fun, in that order, in that sequence. All very intense. Today in church was a relief, and a rest. But it wasn't enough. I am trying to come down by immersing myself in television and the consumption of the chocolate brownies I just baked. It is only working on the upper levels of relaxing, not on the deeper ones. Not even the cold milk helps. I am a tired person and a very unsettled person. It will take time to recover.

Transgender Day Of Remembrance is called TDOR by most in our community. It is a solemn memorial to attend, emotionally hard on all. This year the count was 263 murders. There were twenty four in the United States, four of those in Louisiana, where my partner and I live and of those two within a mile of where I live. It was a very bad year to be transgender. People who consider us less than human were shooting, stabbing, torturing, decapitating, and dismembering us, two days out of three. Brazil was the world's worst place to be transgender as 107 were murdered there, Mexico was second and the United States was third in the world, that is, the world where the information was available. Tip of the iceberg, 

TDOR is an event observed internationally on the 20th of November, I have participated in many, too many. Last year I was the organizer in New Orleans, and was this year as well. I spoke at the Baton Rouge Memorial last year and again this year. I am always emotionally down for weeks after. 

To offset the effects of the weeks of preparation and the terrible stress of the two days of TDOR presentations this week, we decided to go to the other end of emotional scale, an escapism to the eighth century, a day at the Renaissance Faire here in Louisiana. 

We always go in costume, 'garb' as the seasoned veterans call it. And it was a full day of immersion in a different time.

But this escapism, as refreshing as it was, wasn't enough to allow me a full recovery. 

I am reminded of the old spiritual adage that the death of a single person diminishes every living person in the world. When the people that die, murdered in the ways these transgender people were executed. for executed they were, then the divine in humans is lessened. I cannot hold the idea in my mind of this happening, it is just so horrific. And I understand that millions whom are not transgender are killed every year. I am not so naive to know so many humans are very primitive and are somehow subhuman in their lack of humanity, as if it is a mental illness or a deficiency in their souls. Words like bigotry, prejudice. and cruelty come to mind, but those words are inadequate and weak.

Somehow the fact that I too am trangender makes a difference. Am I in danger? Yes, but should I be in fear of my life? The rate of murder of homosexual people is high, yet statistically, we are four times more likely to be murdered. Hate Crime.

So on the 20th in the New Orleans Candlelight Vigil, we lit candles distributed to the attendees, announced the name one by one, and each person when pointed to blew out their single white candle, indicating a life snuffed out. The next night in the Baton Rouge ceremony, we called ot the names and lit a candle. I am not able to say which was the most powerful. as each had it's symbolism. Watching candles diminish in one ceremony and watching the candle light increase in the other, it was a strong reminder each candle was a soul, a human being, a death. 

At the end if the first, when the lights were al extinguished I cried my heart out. At the end of the second ceremony, when those lights brightened the sanctuary, producing a low warm glow and a small heat almost as if they lived again, I cried for the second time in public. Yet even those lighted candles in the second ceremony had to be extinguished in the end, and we started forgetting the names of the victims. Gone.

But there will be the same again next November, different people and stories, transpeople who are living now but will be dead then. It has to stop, it has to. 

So we went to the Renaissance Faire and that was fun. But like writing in the cheap tablets, the ones we had in early elementary school, we erased best we could when we had to, but the ghost of what we wrote was always still there. We spend our lives writing over what has come before. 

So the Renaissance Faire was a good eraser, but the ghosts are still there this day, television shows and fudge brownies be damned.

Elizabeth Anne Jenkins - November 24th 2013

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