TDOR Blogpost – Eliot Newton
Hi there guys, gals, and nonbinary pals.
Eliot here, Education Coordinator for the CCGSD. This is a heavy week for me and my trans siblings. On previous Trans Day of Remembrance (“TDOR”) occasions , I’ve posted on my personal Facebook and told people they could “ask me anything” in honour of TDOR. Once, I did a series of blog posts on the stories of trans folks who had died within the previous year. I’ve attended vigils and when I couldn’t attend, I bought materials, or helped set-up or tear down. But 2020 feels different, in so many ways. So in this strange saga we’re all muddling through, here are some scattered thoughts on Trans Day of Remembrance from your friendly neighbourhood trans educator.
For my siblings:
It can be easy to forget, when you’re in the world of educating and service provision, that there are people like you all around you. Trans folx are not just the people we serve, the people we need to learn how to be nice to, the people on the other side. Trans folx are serving, they are living their truths, and so many of them, by choice or by circumstance, do this incredible work of living unapologetically. Of correcting people around them, time and again. Of “setting a good example”. Of knowing statistics, telling a perfectly linear story, constantly being ready to defend aspects of themselves that no cis person has ever had to consider.
So today, my siblings, I have just a few words for you.
It’s okay to take care of yourself.
Some of the most selfless people I have ever met are trans folx. Many of us know that trans women of colour led the
Stonewall revolution, the Compton Cafeteria riots, and other flashpoint moments in queer history. Perhaps less well known is the historical fact that these women have also been our mothers, our sisters, our Athenas. So many trans women I know are embedded in the community, and would spend their last dollar to see someone younger than them, or harder up than them, fed or clothed or just given a cigarette.
So today, when so many of you are continuing the good work and organizing the vigils, writing your speeches, practicing the pronunciation of the names of the dead, I hope you hear this:
It’s okay to take care of yourself.
If you are a trans person and Trans Day of Remembrance is overwhelming for you, it’s okay to turn your phone off for a little bit. It’s okay to take a (socially distanced, masked up) walk. It’s okay if you can’t attend the ceremony. Every day you live is a ceremony. It’s okay if you can’t be the support person today. It’s okay to have an extra slice of pizza, splurge for a latte, buy the fancy one-whole-dollar ramen. It’s okay to ask those around you to shore you up, today of all days. It’s okay to rest, to show yourself grace and love–and not just because you need this rest to get back to the fight tomorrow, but because you simply deserve it. You deserve to feel loved, safe, and hopeful.
It’s okay to take care of yourself.
If you’re new around here, or still feeling unsure in your allyship, here are just a few recommendations for getting started:
Put your pronouns in your bio. This should only take you like, five seconds to do. This normalizes pronouns and takes the pressure off trans folks. Share your pronouns any time you give your name. Don’t assume OTHER people’s pronouns. Practice using singular ‘they’. You got this.
Hit the books. It’s never been easier to hear from queer and trans folks. It’s an awesome time to expand your knowledge. If you’re a data nerd, start with TransPULSE (https://transpulsecanada.ca/) , which has just started releasing data from their 2019 survey. If you’re still hungry, SARAVYC just did a trans youth health survey too! (https://www.saravyc.ubc.ca/2020/03/18/being-safe-being-me-2019/)
If you want to learn some history, we have some AMAZING resources (https://ccgsd-ccdgs.org/resources/).
If you want to read some no-bull, REAL poetry and prose (but still leave feeling hopeful), try Kai Cheng Thom’s I Hope We Choose Love.
Practice your lines. No, seriously! So many people are so unsure how to apologize that it trips them up and they say nothing at all. Others are afraid to step in in situations where they could make a difference because they just don’t know what to say. So whether it’s in your mirror or with a friend, practice just what you’d say when your pal gets misgendered. Imagine what you’d say to step in at work, at school, maybe even in a public space. This will help you be ready when your moment comes.
From allyship to action:
Find a grassroots connection. What are the local resources for trans folks in your area? Find them. What are your skills? Offer them. Ask what they need and what you can do, but think outside the box on what you can donate. Can you give money? How about your time? Can you leverage your connections to help trans folx access services? Can you negotiate with local businesses to obtain donations or discounts for community members in your area? Can you set a calendar reminder to call your insurance provider on the third Wednesday of the month and ask them if they’ve moved on including trans people yet? Get creative. Stop making excuses. If you want to be an ally, it’s time to do the work.
Diversify your feed. One of the most effective things I’ve done in working on my own allyship is making a sincere effort to hear those voices I wouldn’t necessarily be tuned into. And it doesn’t have to just be activists! Do the legwork to find someone queer and trans who likes the things you do. I guarantee they’re out there! Just having their face or their thoughts on your feed will be a learning experience for you. And if you’re only learning about trans people’s suffering, you’re missing out on SO much of our culture and joy and jokes about pickle juice! (no, seriously, that’s a thing).
@indigequeers is fantastic profiles showing the many magical ways to be queer and indigenous.
@alimackellar_ is a queer fitness wizard, AND and advocate for chronic illness! They are always posting modified ways to exercise to keep things accessible and encouraging me to keep moving.
@_anghost draws very educational comics.
@margejacobsen journals about their life, opening up about mental illness and the ability to find joy in the little things.
@alokvmenon for incredible poetry and fashion!
@ihartericka is a sex educator and breast cancer survivor. Thank you for normalizing bodies and being your rad self!
@chellaman is a genderqueer and deaf artist and activist.
@thejeffreymarsh is constantly exuding love and light. The comment section has so many young queer and trans folks reaching out and Jeffrey makes time to reply to them all. It’s SO encouraging.
@maudmostly interviews trans artists about music, so lots of discover! They also make content that resonates very strongly with trans folx lately.
@fggcomic (she/her) makes comics about being a “fake gamer girl” and also has a series about a trans girl bounty hunter in SPAAAAACE!
@phoebeandheruni (she/her) : What if Calvin and Hobbes …. But feminist. And with unicorns. Yeah, you heard right. Get on this series right now!
@ArnallLabrador (He/Nekm) is a Two Spirit man who loves Star Trek, sewing, and making racists angry. He dreams of opening a queer-friendly café in Nova Scotia.
@beadsagainstfascism is a two spirit beading artist who teaches me about decolonizing while also making stunning art.
@acosmistmachine writes historical fiction romance where the trans folks always get a happy ending. He’s also probably the world’s expert on James Miranda Barry, who, as far as I can tell, is the earliest documented trans person to live in Canada!
@kiwinerd is a science nerd from New Zealand. I frequently learn things from them, but they’re also snarky about politics. Lots to love.
@thetranshijabi is a queen of memes and an unapologetically fierce queer Muslim. She also has an incredibly fierce eyebrow game.
@chasestrangio has argued for trans rights in front of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. I hate that I need him on my feed, but I do. He breaks out every anti-trans law in America in accessible language. An absolute must-follow.
@skatunenetwork — go for the memes, stay for the fashion, the wicked smile, and the tunes that’ll get you on your feet.