Trans Spirituality – Black History Month Special

Trans Spirituality – Black History Month Special

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Every February in the United States, we commemorate Black History Month. We remember the horrible oppression done to those of African descent in this country, and we note the continued oppression that Black people face. We study and hopefully work to remit the horrible generational trauma that Black people live with, along with the myriad injustices that lead to ghettoization, police killings of unarmed Black men and many more horrible things.

In the LGBTQ+ community, this racism has led to “whitewashing” of the history of our people. The movie Stonewall (2015), for instance, shows a white gay man as the person who threw the first brick.  As trans historian Susan Stryker notes in the movie Screaming Queens, we do not know the name of a single one of the heroes of Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco. Those were trans women of color who were fed up with the harassment and assaults by the police, which led to the uprising at Compton’s. Who even knows the names Cooper’s Do-Nuts or Dewey’s? These events have been buried by white historians who don’t want the truth to be known.

At least with Stonewall, we do know the names of some of the heroes who were present. I invite readers to visit my workshop on the subject to see some of the history of these uprisings. Unlike what Hollywood showed in the movie, a Black trans woman named Zazu Nova was the person who threw the first brick at Stonewall. Stormé DeLarverie, a Black butch lesbian who could pass as white and male when they chose, suffered a head injury during the uprising. This is what led Zazu to throw her brick. The more famous names such as Miss Major, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were there as well. Miss Major is the only hero of Stonewall who is still alive, although she is in very poor health. Marsha P. Johnson was killed in questionable circumstances and there are those who believe that either the police or the mob killed her.

I offer this prayer, in honor and memory of those who have come before us, especially the trans and queer people of color who put their lives in jeopardy to bring us the freedoms we enjoy today:

Prayers for Transgender Justice

We hold in love and prayer all transgender people, so many of whom live under the weight of violence, fear, and intolerance. We hold in love and prayer all the ways that transgender people have survived and thrived in a hostile world. We hold in love and prayer all who recognize the significance of gender justice for all people. We who believe in freedom will not rest until it comes. We pray for the dawn of a new day when the very humanity of transpeople is no longer called into question or ignored. We pray that physical, emotional and spiritual violence will come to an end. We pray that a spirit of compassion and care will fill us to overflowing, that we may have the capacity to listen, learn and grow not only in our spiritual leaders, social workers, lawyers and all people who heed the call to support trans liberation, trans leadership and trans visibility. May they ultimately lean into the light of truth and justice, offering hope to trans and gender nonconforming youth and adults. On this day, we commit and recommit to creating a world where people of all genders know peace, love and justice. We commit and recommit to living lives of compassion and care for all of humanity. We commit and recommit to the healing work of relationship-building that will help every person know, no matter their gender or sexuality, that they are loved and valued.

The Transforming Hearts Collective, “Prayers for Transgender Justice,” in Mishkan Ga’avah – Where Pride Dwells – A Celebration of LGBTQ Jewish Life and Ritual, Denise L. Eger, ed. (New York: Central Conference of American Rabbis, 2020): 164.

Peace, Rona

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


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