20 November 2020
In England during the early Middle Ages, a remembrancer was someone officially responsible for recording details and memos about daily transactions that were important for the success of the kingdom. This legal position accounted for finances usually tethered to land and animals, or other logistical elements required for the maintenance of empire. In this year of unfathomable death and loss due to COVID-19 and other racialized pandemics like gun violence, police and vigilante injustice, drug abuse, and ecological disaster, all exacerbated by capitalist greed and human disregard, what does it really mean to observe a Trans Day of Remembrance, especially for Black trans people? That kind of medieval recollection of checks and balances continues to be insufficient for us. When faced with such insurmountable loss, let us hold fast and humanize our historical work of remembering. I always reflect on this day as more than one of remembrance, but of resilience. It’s not only about how trans people have gone, have been stolen from us too soon, but how we continue to be here, to survive and thrive and persist against all odds. Has there ever been anything as beautiful as that?
Some of us have been counted, but most of us are counted out—unthought and unthinkable through the ages. Today, like every day, trans people everywhere are charged with being our own remembrancers. And we continue to humanize and breathe life into that task. We account for Tony McDade. We are accountable to Muhlaysia Booker. We recall Riah Milton. We recollect the fierce life of one of our greatest contemporary remembrancers, the trans griot Monica Roberts, who made it her mission to chronicle the vibrant experiences of trans people across the U.S., to demand we bear witness to the full extent of their stories in this life and honor them into the next. In that spirit, we name the nonbinary people who continue to be treated as unnameable as we slip through the matrix of binary gender. The competing pandemics that the world is experiencing continues to be intensified for trans people, especially Black trans women, in this year as with any other. The surge of violence against us continues to increase from one year to the next. We remember that and live with that reality and demand non-trans people do the same because our resilience is nothing without their reckoning for the violence they allow to continue against us. For this Trans Day of Remembrance, we acknowledge that to remember is not merely a somber act of cold calculation. Today, we remember the ability for trans people to bring and steal joy to one another and our communities. To remember and hold our stories and keep an indelible mark on this world that tries to wipe us from its collective memory. Today, I reckon with the weight of those memories and sit in gratitude at the beauty of Black trans kin who continue to be forces of nature with a generosity of spirit that will continue to persist into present and emerging futures. The least we can do is never forget it.