I spent most of the March 31, 2013, Trans 100 launch event backstage: helping to guide presenters on and off stage, running back and forth between the dressing room and the theatre, and – in the few moments where I actually had nothing to do – pacing and worrying. In the final stretch of of the evening, when the last names were being read, I paused for a moment and actually listened:
“Stephen Ira, author who explores trans identity through text.”
“Susan Stryker, author and theorist, Director of the LGBT Center at the University of Arizona .”
“Teiji Okamato, educator and activist around HIV/AIDS treatment.”
“Tracie O’Brien, activist, co-founder of Transaction San Diego.”
I was finally able to put my finger on something that had been tickling at my brain all evening. When a list of names is read in a public setting, particularly in the trans community, it’s often a list of the dead. The Transgender Day of Remembrance is held every November for exactly that reason: to memorialize those who were murdered for stepping outside of society’s assigned gender lines. Now the Trans 100 was being read as a list of names, and my brain had unconsciously filed it under the same category: a list memorializing those deceased. I turned to Jen Richards, co-creator of the Trans 100 along with Antonia D’orsay, and primary organizer of the event. (I listed her as ‘Queen Bee’ on the contact sheets I emailed out to other volunteers.) She was also watching from backstage as the event neared its conclusion.
“Jen,” I whispered, “This feels really stupid, but I just realized something: Everyone on this list…is alive.” Continue reading 'Stepping up my game – thoughts on the Trans 100'»