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Presente! In Honor of Trans Women

Remembrance, Resilience, Resistance

In times like these, we gather with uncertainty, fear, confusion and WTF-ness...

In times like these, we also gather with sparks of determination, sass and zealousness...

We are mourning for those who died -- and we will fight like hell for those who are living until the violence ends.

For many of us within the Latinx communities, we believe that all who have lived before us continue to journey with us today. We proclaim this conviction with the word “presente!”

Today and every day, all those who have been silenced through violence are presente! They hold us, journey with us, are in solidarity with us… presente now and presente always.

We remember people like Joan of Arc, Freddy Martinez, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, Gwen Arujo, Pauli Murray and Leslie Feinberg …

We remember. Presente!

We remember all those who challenged society’s comfort of the binary … folks who lived and loved boldly beyond the norm.

We remember. Presente!

We honor these witnesses who created a path for us today to simply be.

We remember. Presente!

We remember trans people murdered in the United States and around the world.

We remember. Presente!

We remember those who died by suicide… or death by society, as some would say,

We remember. Presente!

We remember those who died from inadequate medical and mental health care -- those who might have lived on if trans bodies were valued.

We remember. Presente!

Presente with us are all those people whose stories will remain unknown, whose faces are anonymous, whose lives may or may not be a statistic.

Presente are all who struggle in the silences of the closet, who cannot share who they are out of fear, dysphoria and societal imposed shame.

All these people are presente.

Despite rejection, violence and attempts to eliminate our personhood, bodies, narratives and experiences, trans people are refusing to be silenced and erased. Not only have we survived, we have thrived and continue to do so in transgressive and transformative ways.

There is a lot of focus on the hardships experienced by trans people; these realities are important to lift up but often overpower the conversation and overshadow the reality that we as a community are badasses who embody revolutionary sass every day.

Queer Chicana feminist and poet Gloria Anzaldua once said … “I am an act of kneading, of uniting and joining that not only has produced both a creature of darkness and a creature of light, but also a creature that questions the definitions of light and dark and gives them new meanings.”

This is what we do every day.  Presente!

We shift the narrative in society by making it known that trans people are here, have always been here, and will always be here. Presente!

Everyday we embody, with grace and sass, the challenge to live, love and laugh within and beyond binaries. Presente!

In this moment, speak the names of the trans heroes and sheroes and •theyroes that remind you of the ways that transgender brilliance shapes this world…

[Names] Presente!

All of these lives, spirits, ancestors, possibility models, witnesses … all are presente.

We remember.  Presente!

We honor our transgressive and transformative resilience as a community so that the lives lost are not lost in vain.

We remember.  Presente!

Our resilience reflects that we are not victims but we are survivors …

We resist. We choose to thrive in the face of violence and a world that often doesn’t want to allow us to exist.

At a time where there is much EEK within our community, we don’t need allies…
     We need accomplices, folks willing to get down and dirty with us …
          Folks who will show up when we can’t anymore …
               Folks who will continue the gender revolution when we are no longer here.

Will you join us?

I close with the words of Lourdes Ashley Hunter:

“Solidarity with the Trans Community is not a retweet, like or Facebook share. Solidarity is informed, intentional, re-occurring, sustainable acts of service. We must realize that violence against trans women or against any person in our community is violence against us all. We are fighting every day simply to breathe, to exist … when I say that every breath a [trans person] takes is an act of revolution I mean that with my whole heart because every day we wake up in a world designed to erase us off the face of the earth.”

Muchas gracias. Que asi sea.

Adapted from a 2016 Transgender Day of Remembrance presentation by delfin bautista

A native of Miami, FL, delfin is of both Cuban and Salvadoran heritage.  delfin holds a Master in Divinity from Yale University and a Master of Social Work from University of Pennsylvania.  delfin has been involved in Call To Action, Dignity USA, Equally Blessed, Trans Bodies Trans Selves, and Soulforce.  delfin is coauthor of Religion and Spirituality in Trans Bodies Trans Selves. delfin currently serves as the Director of the LGBT Center, adjunct lecturer in WGSS, and advisor to the Latino Student Union.  delfin preaches on their own blog "La Lucha Mi Pulpito" and is a contributor to Believe Out Loud and Young Adult Catholics.

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