By M Barclay
Among all the other hard and beautiful and complicated happenings of November, on the 20th sits the annual ritual of mourning, Trans Day of Remembrance. Like so many rituals that are captured by the attention of the many, I find the day’s public disconnection from its roots and its most critical matters challenging. If you care to read about what I mean, here’s a too-long piece I wrote two years ago when I was very much in my feelings about it.
I still feel those feelings. Every year. But this year, or at least this day, as we find ourselves just over a week from the messiness, the connection, the solidarity and lack there of, I want more than anything to sing a love song to all my trans/gnc siblings having a tough time, mourning deaths and all the things the deaden, fighting against white supremacy, sexism, anti-sex worker cultures and policies, and economic exploitation – the death machines behind all the struggle. I want to offer a love song to each and every perfect body, perfect name, perfect being, perfect trans kiddo. I want to title the song “Miracles of survival” and also “Thank you” and also “You’re not alone” and also “An Ode to Trans Beauty.” I’d have a verse that celebrates the gift to the world that our queering gender is. Especially when it’s disruptive. Unexpected. Challenging to norms. Especially, when we are ourselves for each other. I’d have another that celebrates the wisdom and the histories and legacies erased and forgotten. I’d whisper the names of saints now resting. The ones who fought for trans people: Marsha P. Johnson. Leslie Feinberg. Monica Roberts. Sylvia Rivera. Blake Brockington. So many others. And another verse, calling us to love each other well with attention to our differences in identity and privileges.
It would be a long song. And also, not so gentle on the ears. I am no singer and my prior years on T have left me more squeaky and off-key than ever. (Though, some of you would resonate!)
And so, instead of writing my own love song, I’m sharing three performed by others. Three Black trans musical artists whose love exudes from and through their work. If you are trans/nonbinary/otherwise not cis, let this trans beauty wash over you and remind you of your own. Listen, feel, wonder what form your love song for us might take on today. How you can sink more deeply into your own power to then share it in genuine solidarity. If you are cis, let this trans beauty wash over you, too. Let our love be a teacher of where you, too, are still constrained, confined, bound by violent forces of cisnormativity that harm you, and destroy us.
Beloveds, pause and sink into this love song in three parts. Worship, for a moment, this sacred gift of trans being – of loving each other at a distance – of what can happen when we open ourselves to give and receive from our deepest most honest selves.
First, from Spirit McIntyre (they/them), “Sacred.”
They sing: “I’ll be gentle when you are troubled, for you are sacred to me.”
Second, from Beverly Glenn-Harrison (he/him), “La Vita.”
He sings: “And the body says, ‘Remember you gotta breathe.’ The body says, ‘Take the time to grieve.’” And also, ‘enjoy your life.’
Third, a new fun favorite of mine by Mila Jam (she/her), “It’s raining them.”
She sings: “Hallelujah. It’s raining them.”
Hallelujah to you.
Hallelujah to us.
Hallelujah to the fight, to the love, to everything that calls us into deeper solidarity, sacred and salvific.
All my love.