November 15-20 is Transgender Awareness Week. The week culminates in the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, a day to honor and remember transgender (or perceived to be transgender) individuals who have been murdered because of discrimination and hate. The week is an opportunity to educate, engage, and get involved on behalf of equal rights and fair treatment for transgender and gender variant people and their families.
This year I learned about Made for Flight , a Transgender youth and ally empowerment project created by TC Tolbert.
Honoring the dead, those lost as a result of bigotry, ignorance and hatred, can be a somber and painful process. Whether we are reflecting on those lives lost at the hands of others or via suicide, we may grapple with our very understanding of humanity and the world in which we live.
TC Tolbert decided something different was needed, a project that would empower the survivors and celebrate the humanity of those who have died:
As I sat at the 2009 Transgender Day of Remembrance and listened as over 100 names were read, I looked around and saw transpeople and our fiercest allies re-traumatized. It became clear to me that “tolerance” was not working. And besides, who wants to just be “tolerated” anyway? Transgender and genderqueer people deserve to be supported, celebrated, and valued.
Participants in Made for Flight create kites honoring a specific transgender person. The kites are displayed throughout the week and flown on November 20th during the Transgender Day of Remembrance candlelight vigil at Catalina Park in Tucson, Arizona.
Check out the site to get an idea of the unique, beautiful kites that have been created. Imagine them soaring free together! I love this reminder that murder or suicide victims are more than just their tragic death. As TC Tolbert says:
I created Made for Flight with the goals of building awareness, community, and a sense of the power and history of transgender people despite the many forms of violence and oppression we experience. I wanted to focus on our resiliency, our ability to transform and transcend. I hope that you will join us in this endeavor.
“Our ability to transform and transcend”-yes! An important take away message for trauma survivors of all kinds. Can you envision yourself transforming and transcending your past, your pain?