Transgender Day of Remembrance – 20/11

imageTransgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance on 20 November honouring the memory of those whose lives have been lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

‘The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and began an important memorial that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.’
GLAAD

Today there is much to grieve in our world. I would be remiss not to mention [mention of current events of violence].

Today, on our Transgender Day of Awareness Sunday, we grieve in particular the murders of transgender individuals around our country, and in particular, the murders of trans women of color.

Yes, we have much to grieve today. And grieve, we must. Today and perhaps every day, we grieve the violence in our world, the ignorance, the fear, the hate. In grief, our hearts are broken.

Let us not in our grief forget the light that desperately holds on, the light that flickers in the wind, the light that sputters in the rain, the light that burns bright around us and within us. Let us instead transition from grieving to celebrating! Today, as we grieve the atrocities committed [in country of current event], let us celebrate every act of kindness, of courage, of hope, of love.  Today, as we grieve these trans women whose lives were cut too short, let us heed the invitation not ONLY to celebrate trans women of color in memoriam.  Let us begin uplifting and celebrating trans people, especially those of color, speaking their names and giving praise for their lives.

Let us celebrate trans individuals and the light they shine. Let us celebrate each transgender child, youth and adult.  Let us celebrate their endeavors. Let us celebrate their successes.  Let us support them when they fail.  Let us celebrate each step we take as individuals and communities working to make the world safer and more welcoming for trans individuals.  Let us celebrate celebrities who are transgender and, even more so, let us celebrate the unsung heroes and leaders sitting in our very midst.

Love lives on.  God is with us.  Light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.

Friends, today there is so very much to celebrate in our world!

These lives are not lost in vain.
We will transition from ignorance to understanding.

IMG_9152God of all ages

God of all peoples
God of all hopes and dreams

Today we remember those among us who are transgender:
We grieve the murders of those killed for the sake of hate,
We celebrate the lives of each and every transgender individual;
Those who are able to live into their fullest selves
And those who fear the repercussions of authenticity.

Help us and our world to transition
From grief to celebration,
From ignorance to understanding,
From shame to pride,
From complacency to activism
And from hopelessness to hope.

We lift these prayers up to you, O God,
You who are beyond binaries,
You who calls us each by name and loves us beyond measure.
Amen.

Thandiwe Dale-Ferguson serves in ministry at Cairn Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Lafayette, Colorado USA

Kirkland United Church of Christ
Kirkland United Church of Christ

Call and Response

One: Humans of God’s creation, we are diverse.

Many: We are beautiful. We are unique. We judge each other’s differences, yet our diversity is an illustration of the infinite mystery of God.

All: The God in me sees the God in you.

One: Humans of God’s creation, we are political.

Many: We are conservative. We are liberal. We are passionate about our views, yet we are complacent in systems of injustice.

All: The God in me hears the God in you.

One: Humans of God’s creation, we have bodies.

Many: We are queer. We are gay. We are straight. We are transgender. We shame each other’s bodies, yet we are all made in the image of God.

All: The God in me loves the God in you.

One: Humans of God’s creation, we are theological.

Many: We are human. We are divine. We often feel alone, yet we are bound by the energy of God.

All: The God in me is the God in you.

Ben Saunders is a recent graduate of Vanderbilt Divinity School and is currently serving as the Director of Youth Ministry at Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN. Also, Ben is the co-founder of the Adelicia Company. This prayer was originally published by Peace Prayers, “an effort by Disciples Peace Fellowship to provide pastors and congregations with a peace-themed worship resource each week.”

IMG_8847When I wrote this I had in mind LGBT Christians who may have been wounded by the church.

I made you myself, carefully and lovingly.
I gathered your molecules together,
Scooping them out of them out of the dust, warming them into clay.

I formed you, deftly
With the skill and vision of an artist
Into a unique creation.
A tiny masterpiece.

Your contours bear the imprint of my fingers.
Your imperfections and irregularities are a part of my design;
They are what make you beautiful.

I breathed life into you with my own breath.

To behold what I have brought into being in you
fills me with pleasure and pride.
As I cradle you in cupped hands, how could I feel anything but love?
It is my love for you that brought you into existence.

I know you more intimately than you could ever know yourself.
I know your thoughts before you think them, your words before you speak them,
The pattern and purpose of your days before you live them.

There is no point in hiding or pretending; don’t even try.

Who told you that I did not love you?
Who taught you to be ashamed?
Listen to me. Hear the very words that I whispered into you
At the moment of your beginning:

“You are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased.
You are my beloved child, I will never let you go.
You are my beloved child; do not be afraid.”

We now remempurple-ribbon-image-tdorber those transgender people who have been murdered and killed during the previous year because of the hate that has been generated by these misunderstandings and through the prejudice and discrimination that occurs.

Read out the names of those Transgender persons who have lost their lives in the past year.

[The full list of names is published at the TDOR website.  Some vigils read the country names and the corresponding number of deaths.]

You may wish to include mention of those who have died by suicide.

As the names are read an action might be taken, e.g. light a candle or sound a gong, to reflect the solemnity of the moment and to highlight the humanness of each person attached to the name read aloud.

ts-candleThis liturgy, in a ready-to-print format, with additional resources can be found in full on the UK Transgender Day of Remembrance website.

Call to Worship

Be with us Lord in all of our journeys

From near and from far and histories unknown

Be with us Lord in strength and in weakness

The lost and forsaken the proud and the strong

Be with us Lord in all of our beings

Where life in our genders can truly belong

Be with us Lord in all of our actions

Fulfilling your [Kin-dom] where all people come

Be with us Lord in all of our wishes

That rest in your love, when all are as one

 

Opening Reading

Paul Said: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free,nor is there male and female,for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. (Galatians 3:28)

 

Collect

God of all creation, whose wisdom and love is boundless. You

have many names and you are beyond all divisions of gender.

We have many names for our sexual and gender identities. We

give you thanks for the diversity of sexuality and gender. At

times we deny that diversity by holding too strongly and tightly

to the divisions that we ourselves create.

As we come together to remember those transgender people

who have been killed, taken their own lives or been injured, help

us to honour their identities, and the identities of all people.

Help us to create a world where everyone can live with

authenticity and dignity.

Help us all; who belong to every sexuality and gender, to live

our own lives in true fulfilment of our different identities, in

fellowship with each other and in the Love of Christ.

Amen.

 

Readings

Romans 8: 31-39 and/or Matthew 22:30-40

 

Reflection  (by Susan Gilchrist)

Great harm is done when people use the most insulting sexual slur the can find and then apply it to transgender people. Not only is the insult itself destructive, it is being applied to people who are trying to live lives which are true to who they are….

 

List of Names

We now remember those transgender people who have been murdered and killed during the previous year because of the hate that has been generated by these misunderstandings and through the prejudice and discrimination that occurs.

Read out the names of those Transgender persons who have lost their lives in the past year.

[The full list of names is published at the TDOR website.  Some vigils read the country names and the corresponding number of deaths.]

(You may wish to include the list of those who have died by suicide; these are not on the TDOR list.)

 

Intercessions

For Loss

Let us pray for all those who have been killed or died because

they have not conformed to the gender roles that society expects.

Grant them peace and bring to those they leave behind them

your comfort in the knowledge that all people, irrespective of

gender identity or sexual orientation are enfolded and are

precious in the Love of Christ.

God in your wisdom

Hear our Prayer

 

For Understanding

As we reflect on this list of names and the deaths of so many

people, help us Lord to think afresh about what it means to

belong to our own gender and to be transgender; for we are all

as one in your love. As far as we are able to, help us to listen, and

to learn to understand what it means to be transgender, so that

we and all transgender people always, and in harmony, live to

the full, the Gospel of Love in our everyday lives

God in your wisdom

Hear our Prayer

 

For Self-Acceptance

We acknowledge the harm that our prejudice and ignorance has

sometimes unknowingly created. We recognise the feelings of

guilt and self-loathing that transgender people themselves feel

when they apply these negative messages about transgender

people in general to themselves. It is your love that transcends

all genders. Grant us wisdom care and concern that all of us,

whatever our genders and backgrounds are fellow companions

on our journeys, and that we are all equally accepted for who we

are in the Love of Christ

God in your wisdom

Hear our Prayer

 

For the support of other people.

For transgender people the journey across genders crosses many

divides. Help not only transgender people, but their friends,

spouses and supporters make that journey together to find a true

meeting place beyond these divides. For transgender people who

are rejected by their families or lack social support we ask you to

give all people involved, the strength and understanding to

overcome these obstacles, and to bring new opportunities for

relationships to be restored

God in your wisdom

Hear our Prayer

 

For an end to discrimination and Abuse

Despite gender equality legislation, discrimination still occurs.

Transsexuals find it difficult to gain employment.

Unemployment rates are high. The attitudes of others may make

it impossible to continue in any employment that is held.

Transsexual people are vulnerable to attacks on their homes and

on the streets. Verbal abuse is common. Lord we ask you to grant

wisdom, care and compassion to all people who engage in these

disruptive activities; so that we may all live together in peace.

God in your wisdom

Hear our Prayer

 

To work for a more understanding society

Lord, we have all failed in our understanding by embracing the

historic presumptions and traditional teaching that transsexuals

are following a lifestyle choice in pursuit of sexual rewards; and

not of identity instead. We have failed in the treatment and

management methods that have been prescribed because of the

medical misdiagnoses that have been made. We recognise the

harm that this has brought. Help all of us God to create a greater

understanding in society and to promote a future which is not

bound to the attitudes of the past but, one which can move

forward to promote the fullness of life in all in the world

God in your wisdom

Hear our Prayer

 

For forgiveness and Love

Loving God, Creator of the Universe, you know are inner hearts.

Too often we have failed to follow your ways. Forgive us for our

past failures. Grant us fresh hearts and new minds so that we can

celebrate the full richness and diversity of human experience in

the Love of Christ.

 

Blessing

May the blessings of God’s Love

And the joy of God’s Peace

Be found in us all

Now and Always

Amen

 

About the Author:  Susan Gilchrist, now retired, taught in higher education for over 40 years. She has been involved in the work of reconciliation in conflict situations from 1969. A member of the Corrymeela Community, she has been involved in studies and research into the driving forces behind conflict, identity formation and the interactions that are encountered. She has undertaken similar research on gender dysphoria  (tgdr.co.uk/articles)

She has served on Government and NHS Advisory panels and is actively involved in Church of England activities and in ecumenical work. She is a committee member and secretary of the Sibyls, a Christian Spirituality group for transgendered people, their friends, families and supporters. Email  sgen4144@gmail.com

Corrymeela is Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation centre, with over 50 years of witnessing to faith and peace. Since the early 1980s Corrymeela has been a venue for LGBT groups of people who are working for a fairer and more structures of society and faith. Corrymeela runs annual retreats for LGBT affirmative faith leaders, and also provides resources and runs dialogues for those Christians who wish to understand LGBT lives and stories more.