Transgender Day of Remembrance 2022 Speech

At the heart of Queerness is Transness, and at the heart of Transness lie the deepest levels of authenticity. 

Transness is so much more than the differences in who we love, how we present ourselves to the world, the roles that we play, or the bodies in which we live. 

Transness is about finding ways to thrive in the liminal spaces between survival and authenticity.

Transness embodies a visceral understanding of opposites… fear & faith, love & hate, inclusion & rejection, safety & risk, and occupying all of these at the same time.

Transness includes the many different ways in which we may or may not shape, tuck, bind, release, enhance, alter, paint and clothe ourselves to embody and express our identities.

Queerness is the choice we make to fully accept and love ourselves and risk rejection, violence, and death at the hands of others or otherwise risk dying by our own hands as we hide the light of our truth from the world.

Queerness is an ember of understanding of who we are in a world that tells us that our identities and experiences are immoral, sinful, or shameful, in the hopes of kindling the flame of truth that is diversity.

Queerness transcends all ages, races, classes, ethnicities, cultures, abilities, and any other identity.

Queerness is the journey of personal evolution and social revolution when simply existing is the most courageous thing we will ever do, and our Transgender siblings of color embody these characteristics at the deepest levels of humanity. 

Even as many members of the LGBTQIA+ community have gained legal and social momentum in the past few decades, inequities continue to exist in our community when our legal rights to exist and love are built on the bodies of our Trans siblings of color who have yet to realize the right to live without fear of violence, harassment, and persecution. In order to begin a true process of reconciliation and healing, we need to understand that the systems of oppression that affect us all are also perpetuated in our own community and personal lives.

Systems of oppression are perpetuated in our community when we ignore the violence perpetrated by white supremacy on communities of color;

when funding for medical care, scientific studies, laws, and queer spaces are prioritized by and for those with the most agency among us;

and when we fail to recognize the beauty and gifts of intersectionality in our community.

Today, we mourn the lives of those who were murdered by Transphobia.

This day of remembrance is only one of many ways that we can honor, support, and reaffirm a pledge to protect our Trans siblings who are still paying the price with their lives for the rights that many of us now enjoy.

We remember today, that behind each name is a story, a life, loved ones, and a struggle for personal and social actualization.  We move from mourning to celebrating their lives when we honor their legacy; a reminder that there is still work for our community to do to center the needs of our Trans siblings of color in queer issues. 

Let us commit to honoring those who pioneered our liberation at Compton’s Cafeteria and Stonewall by doing our own work to acknowledge and unlearn the internalized -isms that still exist within ourselves and the community at large. 

May we leverage our privileges to advocate in spaces where members of our own queer family may be left behind.  May we fully embrace and uplift ALL of the diversity within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. 

And may we always practice gratitude for the foundation of the queer rights movement that started with our Trans sisters of color.

© Del Rae Phoenix-Wilcox, 2022

Watch the full TDoR ceremony here, speech at 51:45.

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