In Seymour, an Introduction, J.D. Salinger’s title character is quoted as saying that Abraham Lincoln was dishonest in delivering the Gettysburg Address because “an absolutely honest man” would have simply walked to the podium, shaken his fist at the sky, and departed. No other response, says Seymour, would have been as appropriate. When faced with 8,000 dead human beings words will inevitably fail the situation.
I get to thinking about that passage every November when cities and communities around the globe gather in commemoration of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The Day of Remembrance recognizes those people who, in the last year, have lost their lives to violence due to their gender identity or expression. Most observances, including Houston’s, include a reading of the names of victims and the causes of their deaths. The words are powerful, and the thing that always shocks me is the level of violence involved in so many of the murders: victims stabbed not once, but dozens of times; not only killings, but dismemberments; the perpetrators not content with simply robbing a person of their life, but intent on desecrating the corpse. In the face of such horror words fail, the imagination falters, the mind shuts down in self defense.
The Houston Transgender Day of Remembrance is Saturday, November 19, from 7-9:30 pm at Farish Hall on the University of Houston Campus. It’s a somber event, but not without its joys. As the community comes together to mourn and read the names of those lost, a new resolve to continue the fight is born. Leaning on each other we get through the night and leave bolstered by the support and determination of our community.
As you listen to the speakers and the list of the dead, or enjoy conversation and refreshments beforehand, look for me… I’ll be the guy shaking my fist at the sky.