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Op-ed: Rage Against the Dying of the Light

Op-ed: Rage Against the Dying of the Light


After the vigils of Transgender Day of Remembrance end, we must keep our flames burning bright for all those we've lost to darkness.

While I haven't been an outspoken member of the transgender community, despite being out as a trans woman for some time, I've known people who were. I've witnessed the Transgender Day of Remembrance start as a small, personal affair and grow into a nationwide, then worldwide vigil for those of us who have died. I've also watched the number of our dead rise each year. I would hope that's because of reporting and not because more murders keep happening.

I very much hope that's the case.

There are 80 names on the list this year. Eighty. And there are no doubt many more deaths we don't know about. People who have "disappeared" or been killed and buried in fields far from their home, never to be heard from again.

And while they may be gone, those deaths -- known and unknown -- should never be forgotten, minimized, or depreciated. Nor should any of the names that reach out to us from years past. Names we know. Names we don't know. Names lost to history.

We quibble over labels and divisions. Transgender. Cross-dresser. Transsexual. Drag queen. Transvestite. Arguments over who belongs in what group, whether or not a specific individual "has done their homework," or whether a transsexual should go deep stealth or not. We draw lines, divide ourselves into boxes, do what we can to keep outsiders out, and care only for those inside those boxes, while still finding more lines to divide us.

But yet, with all the boxes and divisions, there is one thread that binds us all: We are being killed.

Today, we stand at the vigils being held across the globe, looking for words and phrases to reassure us, to give us hope for the future. But the fact that we stand here, together, shows us that we do not need hope or reassurance. The fact that we are here shows that hope for a brighter future for ourselves and our posterity already exists in us all.

And as we stand here in defiance, we fight a more desperate battle than the ones we mourn: the loss of hope. The loss of the lives we make in the face of adversity, of arcane laws, and even possibly our own deaths. The loss of the dreams we all share, the dreams of every trans person killed -- the loss of who and what we are, will be, or can be.

We must never forget, in the face of violence or stupidity or arrogance, that we are who we are and what we must be. In the face of these killings, we must never let our dreams slip through our fingers.

We have lost lives this year, and while we know we've lost at least 80 people, we must never give up the fight. We must soldier on -- whether there are a million behind our words or just one. When the vigils end and we all go back to our everyday lives, do not forget the names of the fallen.

Remember that they were your brothers and sisters. Remember that they died living their lives to the best of their abilities. Remember that as the lights of their souls go out, yours still shines brightly in defiance of the night, and that you can and must make this a better place for the souls to come. Each candle extinguished brings the night ever closer, and each voice silenced quiets the choir.

Remember them.

JENN DOLARI has been a comics pusher, cash register slave, Usenet junkie, Mortal Kombat aficionado, video game conceptual artist, tech support guru, and Web comic publisher (although she had to be fired from most of the above before that last one). Her comics, A Wish for Wings, about a woman's quest to be an angel, and Closetspace, about a boy's quest to be a woman, have been wandering their way around the Internet weekly since 2001.

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