Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

Neccessary Silences

I was profoundly moved at today's Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony in Bethnal Green today.

Partly by Val's speech about the unknown trans and gender-queer victims of the Third Reich of whom we know little more than that they existed; mostly by the way that the silence after we had read out the names of the dead and lit candles for them went on as long as everybody felt it needed to, which was a surprisingly long time.

There we were, brothers and sisters, and we just let the minute of silence become three at least and then some seconds more.

I spoke, and I had not known what to say this year and thought I was going to talk about the ambiguity of such ceremonies in an era where we are all too hip for identity, and how our dead are not our dead only, they are sex-worker dead and people of colour dead, and third world victims of class and power dead. Only they are our dead too, and it is our responsibility to remember them as such and claim them as such, because in most cases they were killed for being us, and NO ONE else will remember. Or will obliterate who they were - as some lesbian feminists did Brandon by claiming him as a lesbian - as totally as nameless Chileans obliterated the face of a trans woman whom they buried only half-dead.

Only, I did not say that, but rather talked about Michael Dillon, the first British transman to have surgery that we know about, and how the press hounded him out of the country, more or less. He went off to be a monk in India and found difficulty in that too, because many Buddhist traditions would not accept him. When he found one that would, he put himself through asceticisms that killed him - in a sense he died pursuing his vocation, but in another sense he pursued acceptance and trying to be better than the best until it killed him. And, I said, we need to take from this the need to think of ourselves, and be kind to ourselves, and protect our lives that we have been taught to think of cheaply.

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