TDOR: our safe spaces become violent

'never forgotten' spray painted on an old metal door

cw: violence against trans people

Same thing, different day. Or week. Or month. Or year.

I first learned of Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) when I was still in the questioning stages of my own identity. My understanding was that it was a day to publicly acknowledge our family members in the trans community who have died too soon.

From what I’ve read, that’s what this day has always been meant for. ‘Remembrance’ feels like a funeral dirge and sounds like the crack in your voice when you’re trying to read a eulogy without bursting into anguished tears. Remembrance, for us, brings us a step closer to our own deaths. We reckon with our mortality far more often than others.

Today, my governor proclaimed that this is a day we’ll have on our calendars, not just those of us who have always done the remembering. I think this piece of legislation was written last year, and I wish to high heaven and to the lowest hell that codifying a day onto the calendar would mean something good for us, but I have no hope that this is true.


I woke up late and found out about today’s murder spree in a queer space in Colorado by way of the reactions and feelings of other people that had already heard of it. With dread, I loaded up Google News and could only get about 3/4 of the way through an article before I had to close it to protect my hurting heart.


We are alive until we are dead. We have all the complexity of any other human person, and a great deal more internalized and justified fear.


It is not enough to remember us. We can remember our dead, and the world should remember our dead as well. Let the dead tell you what you try not to hear.


Whether by bullet, by fist, by knife or tire iron or baseball bat or state law or federal law or medical abandonment, we will continue to be reminded of how little we mean to you. In defiance, we remember ourselves and each other. We learn the lessons you were supposed to learn but haven’t.

We are dying.


People are selfish. People see the world through the framework of their own lived experience. People can easily avoid learning anything about trans people except to hate us, because that is much more socially acceptable. People should care but they don’t, because even if they have a family or community member who is trans, whether alive or dead, people will avoid thinking about it. You forget our names. You think of us in the past tense while we are still breathing. You turn your head away and we die.


I am trans. Many of my family and community members are trans, including some of my kids. Do you think I would not do anything in my power to protect them? The problem is that you are not doing everything in your power to protect us. The absence of a choice is by itself a choice. You remain in denial and we die. You avoid thinking about us until it’s time to name a holiday after our deaths.


We want to survive. We have family and life purpose and a whole web of people we could affect and have affected. We are capable of changing the world we live in with compassion, understanding, community care. We know how to bring mutual aid into being. We bring our love and our vulnerability just as much as we bring our fear and our trauma. We are people like you are people. This should not be difficult, but somehow for you it is, and we are dying.


I want to remember my trans siblings today, but instead I have to witness from afar the same thing that always happens to us: violence, death, hatred. I want the safety of community supporting me in my grief and in my rituals of remembrance. I want a public day of mourning. I want you to wear black and not to comb your hair and to go out into the world looking like someone you love has died.



We want to live.

Today I want to be left alone except for my queer family and community. You can look for the end ephemera of other posts here to find my contact and social media details. I don’t have the heart to share that with you today.

I mourn for my siblings, gone too soon. Their love, their light, extinguished.

There are far too many names on this list. Can you read them all? Will you?

featured image is a photo by Brock DuPont on Unsplash

Nix Kelley
Co-parent to multiple kids. Writer. Death doula. Member of the Order of the Good Death. Seeker on the Path of Light. Queer, non-binary, & trans.

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