Forgetting the Trans Day of Remembrance
Today is November 21st, which means that once again, I have forgotten the transgender day of remembrance. This year I forgot about the Trans Day of Remembrance in San Francisco, on one of the cities highest points, where the distance from the fog rolling through the golden gate to the bay bridge is only as far as a sidelong glance. I was absorbed with the thrill of running to this high place, the exhilaration of speed and strength. I was distracted by casserole dishes full of frittata for breakfast, and the lovely queer posse who cooked them. Then by hilariously prurient comic books, and by torrential rains and purple lightning, and conversations in the dark of a self-imposed blackout. I might have remembered at dusk, when the sun completed its impossibly long arc, and disappeared entirely, once more, into the fog and the western sea, might, perhaps, have caught the pang of fear in the sky's deep furrows of crimson and lavender. But the dark slate of thunderheads hid the sun with catharsis. Later, I ate greasy burgers and velveeta fries in good company, with whom I then didn't go to a historic gay bar (on account of its cover charge), opting instead for a steaming hot tub in a suburban thicket of redwood. I stood, naked and sweating, beneath the moon nearly full, and there was nothing, in that moment, to remind me of.
By this point I recognize the pattern, of laughter and forgetting, though yesterday i laughed better, beamed harder than in some previous years. This forgetting is a messy thing, bound up in the clothes i wear, the company i keep, the families i was born into and the ones i begin to piece together on my own. The mess notwithstanding, I think that I shall continue to forget trans remembrance day.
For one day out of the year, it will be a luxury to forget that girls like us are anything but indestructible, and remain cozily oblivious to anything but how badass our friends are, and how ferocious we can be when we have each other's backs. for those few hours, we can afford the delirium of ignoring the threat which necessitates such solidarity, and is thus implied by it. We can have defense without assault, hard-won identity without the hardship or the fight.
From 11:59:59 pm, november 19th, until the first seconds of november 21st, the only people who will ask me if i am a boy or a girl will be the children whose faces will brighten and whose heads will nod at my answer, and whose parents will shoot neither me nor their offspring any looks of cutting reproach.
We will have 24 blissful hours during which we will be free to discuss the role of the moon in our miraculous transformations, and the comedy of our bodies, constantly being constructed ad-hoc. We will be the only ones howling, and the only ones laughing, and the glint of silver bullets will never cross our minds, nor the flicker of torches, held with pitchforks at the castle gates. we will take in the midnights on both ends, the better to appreciate the possibilities of night lived fearlessly.
Conversely, while our brethistren will spend the 20th in an indulgent amnesia, the world on the far side of the besquiggled gender divide will stand in rapt attention. The day of remembrance will be when our neighbors on the privileged shores of the gender divide remember the machinations of normative power, which daily surround them. They will feel the prickle of gender scrutiny tugging at the nape of their necks. In their every interaction, teeth in square jaws will be set on edge, manicured nails dug into palms. Skins used to comfort will crawl, and their residents will not be able to say if it is discomfort or existential self-doubt which sets them to squirming. The mundane iniquity of binarism, thrown into a razor-sharp relief, will stand alongside the great and terrible spectacle of all the world's trannies living 24 hours with total self-posession, in full command of our powers and abilities, in a world stripped of kryptonite.
And then, one day, it will once again be the time for remembering. On the calendar, this new Remembrance Day will follow the Celebration of Armed Transgender Self-Defense. It will fall five months and one day after Juneteenth, that dual memorial to the Emancipation Proclamation and the Abolition of the Prison. The new Day of Remembrance will recall the days when every trans funeral was a riot, and the years in which the fury of our grief brought the gears of the State to a screeching halt. The new holiday will have its roots in a hasty call from those days of rage, a plea to corral the anger and the mourning, to preserve some semblance of business as usual. That first proposal will be as forgotten as the usual business it sought to salvage. Its descendant will find its home, in the third week of a november long after the fires have subsided, when we finally need a day to remember that, not so long ago, there was a world where we were killed in frantic hatred, and went to the grave in shame.
on that day, children will watch tedious documentaries in school, and perform clunky pageantry in which they will depict the horrors of gender policing and heteropatriarchy. they will act these scenes out woodenly, in costumes made from old bed sheets, and laugh in the middle of their lines. they will try, and fail, to imagine a world in which gender was an instrument of conformity and fear, rather than a tool of invention and inspiration. And when they fail, they will laugh.
and until that day comes, i am content to keep forgetting:
That the only day set aside for our trans family is the one that reiterates the logic of the Tragic Hollywood Transsexual, and remembers us after we are safely dead.
That it is a day whose name erases the role that racism and misogyny, the marginality of sex work, and the violence of the state play in the death toll.
That we set aside so little effort and so few resources for the militant preservation of Trans Life.
That we do so little to honor our strength, or the daily feat of trans survival.
Instead, I will forget. I will be loved and I will feel invincible, and I will laugh with the children of the future.