Elizabeth Rivera - "What does Transgender Day of Remembrance Mean to You?"

The Transgender Day of Remembrance will be observed this Thursday, Nov 20. To commemorate the day, GLAAD will be blogging about issues relevant to the Day of Remembrance throughout the week.

We asked transgender people and allies to respond to the question "What does the Transgender Day of Remembrance mean to you?"  This response is from Elizabeth Marie Rivera.

Elizabeth Marie Rivera is an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth of color. Whether serving as the Community Health Specialist for the Gay Men's Health Crisis or as a member of the House of Latex, Elizabeth has always advocated for her community. Elizabeth has been an advocate for the health and wellness of NYC Transgender and Sex Industry workers since 1997. Her ballroom peers know Elizabeth as Elizabeth Ninja of the House of Ninja.

Elizabeth now works as the Coordinator of TransJustice, part of the Audre Lorde Project. TranJustice is a political group created by and for transgender and gender non-conforming people of color. TransJustice works to mobilize its communities and allies into action on the pressing political issues they face.

Elizabeth Rivera

Elizabeth Rivera

The Transgender Day of Remembrance for me is not only a day to remember those who have passed on but to give thanks for the life you currently have as well. Many of us Transgender individuals have fallen victims to discrimination and violence. But we who are still here need to continue fighting for our rights and continue reminding society of those who we have lost due to ignorance.

It is sad that in this day and age we still have to hear reports like in the recent murder of Duanna Johnson from Memphis, Tennessee, who could not even be protected by the very police that repeatedly punched her in the face while she sat in the precinct for which she was suing the police department. Every year we continue to hear horrific and saddening reports that continue to affect us. We must end this discrimination.

We must continue to strive on and stay strong. It will change for all of us one day, we just need to be able to give thanks for the life you have been given no matter where it is you are at, know our passed ones have also created opportunities for change just in their own passing. Remember our passed but celebrate your life; you only get one.

I wrote this poem in the beginning of my transition to empower me and make me feel positive about who I am and the experiences I have been through. I pass it on to you in hopes that the words can make you feel as strong as I felt when I first wrote them.

My Feminine Spirit

There is a young woman inside of me
Lost in a labyrinth within my heart
A butterfly trying to break free from her cocoon
Trying to spread her wings and fly
Longing for acceptance and love
A soul alone trapped in the dark
Many have laughed and criticized her
Others have watched in silence
As this young woman holds her head up high
With courage she absorbs the cruel remarks
On the outside you may see a man
But on the inside she is a lady; a princess
Beautiful and sweet though she may be
Many tears have fallen from her eyes
But still she chooses to hold on
Knowing she will be real one day
As for her truelove
Her Knight in shining armor
He is out there; somewhere
Waiting for her to find her way
Like a bud blossoming into a rose
She blossomed from a man into a woman
This feminine spirit I have inside
A shadow of shame falls onto to her face
As she makes her way through the maze
She prays, prays to Him
In hopes that He will hear her
Forgive me father
All is forgiven
Becoming a Martyr for all to see
Fighting to survive and living to be
For no man or woman
Shall defeat the feminine spirit inside of me

©1999 Elizabeth Marie Rivera