On Transgender Day of Remembrance, “Climbin’ on and Reachin’ Landin’s”
November 18, 2013 by Guest contributor
This week we observe Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to come together as a community to honor those transgender and gender nonconforming people who have been murdered because of hate.
On November 20 and the surrounding days, HRC members and supporters around the country will gather to honor those we've lost and call attention to the threat of violence our transgender sisters and brothers continue to regularly face. Visit hrc.org/tdor for details on an event near you.
Throughout the week we'll be featuring guest blog posts from transgender community leaders and advocates on what November 20 means to them. Check out the post below from Xavier University of Louisiana student and 2013 HRC HBCU Leadership Summit alum L’lerrét Jazelle Ailith and check back throughout the week for additional posts.
The following post comes from Xavier University of Louisiana student and 2013 HRC HBCU Leadership Summit alum L’lerrét Jazelle Ailith:
“Well, son, I’ll tell you: Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. It’s had tacks in it, and splinters, and boards torn up, and places with no carpet on the floor— bare. But all the time, I’se been a-climbin’ on, and reachin’ landin’s, and turnin’ corners, and sometimes goin’ in the dark where there ain’t been no light…”
I must have practiced that poem by Langston Hughes one thousand times in preparation of my 5th grade talent show. At the age of 10, I truly didn’t understand my subconscious desire to recite this particular poem of all of the ones I could have chosen. Here I am 10 years after that experience – 10 years after winning the show and receiving that standing ovation and compliments from adults telling me how I really embodied a character with experiences far beyond my years – I realize that struggle is non exclusive.
As a child, my mommy always would make me understand that I was “different” and that when I leave the house, I need to expect adversity and marginalization but not to let it defeat me. I never understood why I was such a target. I see all humans as Christmas trees that you buy in the tree yard and we just express ourselves in various ways with the use of decoration. However, because I don red bulbs and not green ones, I’ve been raped, robbed, threatened, ostracized, attacked, stalked, laughed at, photographed, homeless, forced into sex work, etc. I’m not writing this for pity but to give thanks. I risk my life just waking up and walking out of the door every morning but I have persevered and continue to thrive as a young trans* woman. I hear of all of my brothers and sisters being murdered for just being who they are and it scares the hell out of me. But I keep “climbin’ on and reachin’ landin’s” because I know that one day, my visibility will help secure a promising future for the younger generation of trans* boys and girls.
TDOR means more than mourning the dead to me. I’m celebrating individuality, self expression, and most importantly – a movement. We as trans* identified people have this moment where we can come together and just experience true solidarity regardless of our intersecting identities outside of the gendered lens. We are all family and that’s what gives me strength to press onward – support.
L'lerret (front, right) with other attendees and HRC staff at the 2013 HRC HBCU Leadership and Career Summit. Photo (c) Dakota Fine/HRC.
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