Br’er Abbot’s Briarpatch

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014

10606535_10204291459139591_3785320261542906157_n
Introduction Given at the Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church Fayetteville Arkansas

By Bishop Brian Ernest Brown, OSH

I Wonder Did You Know You Were Making History
By Stephanie Mott

In honor of those who have walked openly in the light and in memory of those who have suffered the violence of ignorance and oppression 2011 Transgender Day of Remembrance.

I wonder did you know, you were making history,
you were setting people free, when you died.
I wonder did you know, we would ever know your name,
our lives would never be the same, because you tried
I wonder did you know, we would come to love you so,
and I wonder did you know, you were making history.
I wonder did you know, we would stand up to insane,
we would reach beyond the pain, because you cried
I wonder did you know, we would learn to stand up tall,
tell the truth to one and all, for those denied.
I wonder did you know, we would come to love you so,
and I wonder did you know, you were making history.
The lives we live we owe to you, and I wonder did you know,
you were making history.
I wonder did you know, we would finally learn to fly,
we would fly beyond the sky, because you tried
I wonder did you know, we would finally say no more,
we would open up the door, please come inside
I wonder did you know, we would come to love you so,
and I wonder did you know, you were making history.
I wonder did you know, you were making history,
you were setting people free, when you died.

For Rita Hester

Let us pray.

Giver of Breath and Lover of our Soul, we thank you for the great witness of Rita Hester and all those who have gone before us who have suffered bigotry, hatred, persecution, and sometimes death.

In particular, on this Transgender Day of Remembrance, let us remember those who have identified as transgender or gender non-conforming, who have blazed a path for each of us to follow in our own unique and diverse way, with their very lives. We thank you for those lives, the courage of those who lived them, and the light they shone on the path for the rest of us to follow.

Help us to be ever mindful of the pain, injustices, and discrimination perpetrated against so many who are simply trying to live out their lives to be who they were created to be.

Give us the grace and strength to live our lives so courageously, authentically, and fearlessly that we too offer others, who follow after us, permission to be themselves so that they may join us on the path toward acceptance, inclusion, compassion, and love. Amen.

Marianne Williamson from her book A Return to Love offers: “As we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I want to speak just briefly about how far we’ve come, specifically how far we’ve come since the Stonewall Riots of 1969. I was only ten days old. Now just briefly, for those who may not know what I’m referencing, The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the ] gay community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.

My how far we’ve come since those days! In large part thanks to those who have gone before us, some of whom are still with us, and many of whom have passed away, and still others who laid down their lives for the cause whom we remember today.

For those of us who were born around that time or afterwards, it’s hard to see the progress we’ve made because we sometimes lack perspective and often take so much for granted getting caught in our own struggle towards equal rights. But here we are openly holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance and no one is breaking down the door and carting us away to jail or worse. Thank goodness. Thank justice. Thank courage. Thank those whom we remember today.

We live in a day and age where, with some exceptions, albeit too many exceptions because one exception is too many, transgender folk can legally be married. A big difference from 45 years ago. However, there’s still so much more work yet to be done.

We live in a day and age where, with some exceptions, albeit too many exceptions because one exception is too many, transgender folk are able to more easily and freely transition into who they were created to be, than they were 45 years ago. However, there’s still so much more work yet to be done.

We live in a day and age where, with some exceptions, albeit too many exceptions because one exception is too many, transgender folk are gaining equal rights within community after community. Look at our struggle in our own dear Fayetteville and the struggle of Springfield, MO, our neighbor to the north, which have both passed sweeping Civil Rights Ordinances for LGBT folk. That was just a dream 45 years ago. However, as we all well know, there’s still so much more work yet to be done. Vote against the repeal!

Even so with all this progress, the papers, or probably more accurately in this day and age, Facebook, too often, because once is too often, tells us stories of bigotry, discrimination, abuse, and sometimes murder of transgender or gender non-conforming folk.

So the struggle is far from over and a struggle it is. However, please remember as we struggle for equal rights let us not so much seek to do battle with one another, for in battles there is a winner and a loser, but rather let us seek to become reconcilers, for in reconciliation, one to another, our human family can finally begin to grow together in acceptance, peace, respect, and ultimately love and that’s what we’re really struggling for.

So even though there’s more work to be done, have hope, we’re on the winning side of history and we shall overcome!