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TDOR - Trans Day of Remembrance, or Rage
I'm angry and we're angry and we're here and I love you.
Every year on TDOR, we remember the lives lost and the lives given and the lives stolen of our trans family, some years gone and some so recently here, so recently alive. On the morning of TDOR, we woke to the news that a gunman had entered a queer bar in Colorado, Club Q, and killed five people. One of them was a bartender, a trans man named Daniel Davis Aston.
There’s not much on his social media page in the last few months, though one post, when I click over to his Instagram that is now a memorial site instead of something living and growing as he becomes more and more himself, stands out among the others. In the photo, Daniel is standing just a bit away from the camera, the image cropped just below his hips, enough so that we can see the white towel wrapped around them. He’s turned slightly away from the frame, the barest fuzz of a happy trail climbing his stomach to his belly button, his skin a soft, smooth, innocent expanse. His right hand is placed gently, tenderly, over his chest, his thumb, and the silver ring on it, coming to rest easily between the two freshly healed scars. His chest, so pink and new with top surgery, that shape we know, we covet, we adore so well. That gorgeous mark of freedom, the bumps along the incision lines showing where the stitches are still dissolving in some places, still being spit out in others. He cannot be more than a few weeks post op, maybe six. Those collar bones, straight and strong and masc. And it’s the look on his face, more than anything, that tears us apart. It’s that look. His chin is up and forward. He is proud. His eyes are closed, like they’d just fluttered down for a moment of rest. On his bicep, there’s a small tattoo. It’s a red heart, in the traditional style, and the banner over it says MOM.
And couldn’t that just crush you, right there. He is just a boy. And he loves his mother, and somewhere else in the swirl of social media there is a picture of his parents, a look of confusion and hurt on their faces as they pose for a picture, holding a photograph of young Daniel between the two of them. In the picture, Daniel is five. His grin is wide and large, his joy an echo of the words he uses to describe the feeling of being post-op so many, but not too many, years later.
I don’t want to think of his death, but I think of it anyway. How long did it hurt. Did he think of his mother. Did he feel the pain of a trans life unlived ripped away from him. Were his scars still there, in the end. Did he place a hand over his chest, his thumb nestled between those two sweet, pink lines, to comfort himself? Was he held? He looks like a brother. Like someone I would want to pull to me, to bring his head to my own freshly healed chest, to rest together, to protect each other.
Each day I wake up and another trans person does not. And it’s violent, and it’s crushing, and it breaks me into a scatter of pieces that I am constantly, constantly picking back up and trying to put together. We are all putting each other back together. Daniel was only two months post-op. He had just dyed his mullet bleach blond. He was pressing his hand to his chest, he was opening the doors for young and old and fellow queers to come in, to sit down and take off their tired bodies and be their whole selves, to show their scars and their newly formed bodies.
What more can I say but that we are angry. That we are tired. That we are loving each other, that we are giving each other advice on the best binder, the best scar care, the best razor for our newly grown peach fuzz. We are all Daniel, bathed in the warm light of learning to love ourselves, and we are all Daniel, struggling to breathe in the last moments we believed the world would let us out alive.
Yesterday was Trans Day of Remembrance, but I invite you to the next 364 days of trans rage. We are going to be here, defiantly, loudly and quietly, joyous in our love fierce in our protection. Each loss is a loss in our entire family - no trans woman, no nonbinary person, no trans man is left behind here. We are building towards a better future. We are angry, we will see you in the morning, and every day thereafter.