LET US REMEMBER

Today is a day of mourning. It is not a day that is on the national calendar. In fact with the exception of a small percentage of people in this country this day of mourning will pass completely unnoticed.

Those who remember on this day will find themselves swinging between tears of grief and deep waves of anger not to mention a certain amount of fear of further attacks.

The devastating images of those viciously killed in 2007 for simply trying to be themselves is something we should remember, something that should burn in our souls.

The people we mourn for this day are apart of the community most would just as soon not deal with. Oh we go to watch the drag shows and tell our jokes and we have added a “T” to the GLB_Q but don’t really take seriously folks in the transgender community live in a very dangerous and un-supportive world.

We do not take seriously they find it extremely difficult to get jobs, get health care or any kind of support and dignity.

In fact just this past month Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and the HRC made it clear they were not even worth naming in a piece of legislation design to give us job protection. The political spin was that it could not pass if the transgender community was part of it.

In fact, the leaders of HRC told me they were nothing more then a “political calculation”

So the message went out loud and clear…it is still open season on those who would dare to transition from one gender to another.

Of course what we forget is it was these folks who started the whole “gay rights” movement we know today when they stood toe to high heal with the New York City police department at Stonewall.

We forget they have been with us every step of this bloody fight for our rights, our self worth and our very souls.

We forget that each day when they get out of bed and step into the world it may in fact be their last day.

So on this day I want us to remember the transgender community…to pay attention to the day that has become known as “Transgender Day of Remembrance”

May we who mourn and remember today take some comfort in these words of scripture:

“God is King, despite the chaos that may be roaring around us.” (Ps 93)

“If one member suffers, the whole body suffers…” (I Cor 12)

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Nothing in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8)

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

“The Lord takes care of me as his sheep; I will not be without any good thing. He makes a resting-place for me in the green fields: he is my guide by the quiet waters. He gives new life to my soul: he is my guide in the ways of righteousness because of his name. Yes, though I go through the valley of deep shade, I will have no fear of evil; for you are with me, your rod and your support are my comfort. You make ready a table for me in front of my haters: you put oil on my head; my cup is overflowing. Truly, blessing and mercy will be with me all the days of my life; and I will have a place in the house of the Lord all my days.” Psalm 23

Today may we find ourselves moved to pray. May these prayers be for all of the victims, their family and friends.

May we pray for our government to have wisdom, courage and a Christ like response to this insanity. Let us pray for God’s protection and a calming of their and our fears.

And may our prayers be accompanied by expressions of our faith – that we are not conformed to the ways the world and how they will respond to children of God, but to the way the Christ would respond. May we be in our speech and actions the love of God.

Let us remember the words of Gwendolyn Ann Smith,

We have lost so many people in our community to the hand of hatred and prejudice, yet we still are not seemingly willing to fight back. Meanwhile, we die at the hands of a lover, of police, of medical practitioners, and even parents, while the news media calls us “freaks” — and worse.

In fact, the media’s reluctance to cover our deaths lies near the heart of this project. It can be all-but-impossible to find honest, reliable media on the death of a transgender person: It either does not exist (which is how one can cover thirty years of cases and still only have as many as I have to present), or it uses names that the deceased did not own, and pronouns that did not fit their reality.

There is no “safe way” to be transgender: as you look at the many names collected here, note that some of these people may have identified as drag queens, some as heterosexual cross dressers, and some as transsexuals. Some were living very out lives, and some were living fully “stealth” lives. Some were identifying as male, and some, as female. Some lived in small towns, and some in major metropolitan areas.

Today we remember:

Nakia Ladelle Baker
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Cause of Death: Blunt force trauma to the head
Date of Death: January 7, 2007

Keittirat Longnawa
Location: Rassada, Thailand
Cause of Death: Beaten by 9 Youths who then slit her throat
Date of Death: January 31, 2007

Moira Donaire
Location: Viña del Mar, Chile
Cause of Death: Stabbed 5 times by a street vendor
Date of Death: March 5, 2007

Michelle Carrasco “Chela”
Location: Santiago, Chile
Cause of Death: She was found in a pit with her face completely disfigured.
Date of Death: March 16, 2007

Ruby Rodriguez
Location: San Francisco, California
Cause of Death: She had been strangled and was found naked in the street.
Date of Death: March 16, 2007

Erica Keel
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cause of Death: A car repeatedly struck her
Date of Death: March 23, 2007

Bret T. Turner
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Cause of Death: Multiple stab wounds
Date of Death: April 2, 2007

Unidentified Male Clad in Female Attire
Location: Kingston, Jamaica
Cause of Death: Gunshot wounds to the chest and lower back
Date of Death: July 7, 2007

Victoria Arellano
Location: San Pedro, California
Cause of Death: Denied necessary medications to treat HIV-related side effects.
Date of Death: July 20, 2007

Oscar Mosqueda
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
Cause of Death: Shot to death
Date of Death: July 29, 2007

Maribelle Reyes
Location: Houston, Texas
Cause of Death: AIDS; Reyes was turned away from several treatment centers due to her transgender status.
Date of Death: August 30, 2007

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.