The first independent human act, we are told, was a crossing over of a boundary: from obedience to curiosity, from Eden to the world. Human life has been marked by transition ever since: from childhood to adulthood, from ignorance to knowing, from solitude to community.
My community, the Jewish people, was a tribe that passed through a wilderness to become themselves. They transitioned through fire and water to become who they would be. The Hebrew word for Jew is ivri, which literally means “the one who crosses over.” Our holy book declares that we are created female and male, not one or the other but both. Sexuality is not binary, it is a spectrum, a rainbow of different expressions, all beautiful, holy, all blessed.
Transition from one state to another is a natural phenomenon for the caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, for the carob tree that changes gender, and for the day that changes into night and back into day again.
It is the experience we all share: it is said that “we are all twilight people. We can never be fully labeled or defined. We are many identities and loves, many genders and none. We are in between roles, at the intersection of histories, or between place and place. We are crisscrossed paths of memory and destination, streaks of light swirled together. We are neither day nor night. We are both, neither, and all.”
On this Transgender Day of Remembrance my prayer is for a world in which Trans people are recognized for the prophetic vision they demonstrate by the way they live their lives; they inspire all of us to envision a world in which we can see that we all experience transition. We give thanks today for the learning we are offered by every trans life. May we gain understanding. May we reach, someday, wisdom.
אל מלא רחמים – in the name of Compassion, may their souls be blessed, all those who are in our hearts on this Transgender Day of Remembrance. Today we say the names of young and old, of every race, faith, and gender experience who have died by violence. We remember those who have died because they would not hide, or did not pass, or did pass, or stood too proud.
Today we say their names: the reluctant activist, the fiery disturber of the peace, the warrior for quiet truth, the anonymous one. As many as we can name, there are thousands more whom we cannot.
All of them are holy; all of them are blessed; all of them are precious.
We mourn the senseless deaths as we give thanks for the lives, the teachings, and for the brief glow of each holy flame. We seek the strength to carry on their legacy of vision, of bravery, and of love.
We remember those who lives were ended by murderous hate, by the hand of another, or by their own, desperate, hand.
We say their names, and in their names we will root out the injustice, ignorance, and cruelty that caused their deaths and our own despair.
We say their names and declare that Creation has many holy faces, many holy genders, and many holy expressions.
Blessed are they who have allowed their divine image to shine in the world.
Blessed are we who have been illuminated and warmed by that light.
Blessed is the Source of all light and life, in which nothing is forgotten, and every living light is gathered in.