Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Second Life Transgender Day of Remembrance Speech, Part I
There were several great speeches given at the Second Life Transgender Day of Remembrance event last night. I've received permission to post three of them. Here is the first one:
Stop. Listen. Reflect.
We are here to reflect on those who have fallen over the years. Through the violence of some, through the negligence of others, and, through the intimidation of society, those who took their own lives.
Each candle extinguished brings the night ever closer. Each voice silenced quiets the choir.
My name is Carrie Talaj, although some of you may know me by the name Jenn Dolari. Thank you for coming tonight. While I haven't been an active member of the transgender community despite being in it for some time, I've known people who were. I've seen the Day of Remembrance start as a small personal affair, and become a nationwide, then worldwide vigil for those of us who have died. About five years ago I went to the vigil in Austin, run by the TACT group there. It got me thinking that I felt I wasn't doing enough on my end, but I didn't know what to do.
When the 2003 vigil came around I again went to Austin to observe the passing of those who died that year. Again I was moved, but did not know what to do. Several of my friends were knee deep in planning that year's remembrances, and, again, I felt there was more I could do.
It wasn't until a few month before the 2004 event that Erin Lindsey, of Venus Envy, and I decided to create a virtual vigil using our webcomics. Originally we planned it to be just a simple crossover comic between our two strips. Instead it grew quickly over the years to include many other comics. This is our fourth year and many of the art pieces you see here come from those years.
As much as I hope and pray that we will never ever need another vigil ever again, I'm glad that there now exists, here in Second Life, a place where we can remember and reflect on those who came before us, and hope for a future where we will never need a place like this again.
There are ten names on the list this year that we know of. Ten names...Nakia Baker, Keittirat Longnawa, Moira Donaire, Michelle Carrasco, Ruby Rodriguez, Erica Keel, Bret Turner, Victoria Arellano, Oscar Mosqueda and Maribelle Reyes. There are no doubt many more deaths that we don't know about. People who have "been disspeared" or killed and buried in fields far from their homes never to be heard from again.
And while they may be gone, their deaths, known and unknown, should never be forgotten, minimized or depreciated. Nor should any of the others who have died. The names that reach out to us from out past. Names we know. Names we don't know. Names lost to history. Each of our brothers and sisters gone, crying out from the past, "Make our lives mean something! Make our deaths have importance! So that the lives that come after yours can live a life free of violence and pain. A life where 'never again' is a truth, and not a wish."
We quibble over labels and divisions. Transgender. Crossdresser. Transsexual. Drag King. Transvesitite. Arguments over who belongs in what group, wether or not a specific individual "has done their homework" or wether a transsexual should go deep stealth or not. We create the lines, divide ourselves into boxes, and do what we can to keep the outsiders out, and care for only those inside those boxes while still finding more lines to divide us. And yet, with all the boxes and divisions, there is one thread that binds us all: We are being killed.
We stand here, looking for words and phrases to reassure us, to give us hope for the future. But the fact that we stand here, together, at this place, show us that we do not NEED hope. Do not NEED reassurance. The fact that we are here shows that hope for a brighter future for ourselves and out posterity exists in us all. That together, we care enough to say "This ends now!"
As we stand here in defiance, we fight a more desperate battle that the one we mourn today. The LOSS of the our hope. The loss of the dreams we all share. The loss of the lives we make in the face of adversity, of arcane laws and even our deaths. The loss of our dreams, the dreams on every name on these pillars, the loss of who and what we are. We must never forget, in the face of violence, of stupidity, or arrogance, that we are who we are and what we must be. Against these things, we must never let our dreams slip through our fingers.
We have lost lives this year, and while the listing is smaller this year than last, we must never give up the fight and we must soldier on, wether there are a million people behind our words, or just one. When the day ends, and we all go back to our everyday lives, do not forget the names here. Remember that they were your brothers and sisters. Remember that they died living their lives to the best of their abilities. Remember that as the lights of their souls go out, that yours still shines brightly in defiance of the night, and that you can make this a better place for the souls to come. For each candle extinguished brings the night ever closer and each voice silenced quiets the choir.