Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

My Transgender Day of Remembrance Remarks

Tonight my church hosted the twelfth annual Transgender Day of Remembrance in Boston. I was one of the speakers, welcoming folks on behalf of my church. Here are my remarks:


Good evening. Thank you for coming, and welcome to my home.


I showed up on these steps four years ago, less than six months after my transition, and I was welcomed as an equal sister. I drum here, and I worship here. The Crossing community has prayed for me and laid hands on me during my process. They have marched with me and lobbied with me. This past Easter Bishop Shaw received me into the Episcopal Church as I delivered the sermon during the Cathedral’s Easter Vigil. I feel blessed and humbled to be a part of The Crossing community, and I am profoundly moved that my family is helping to host this Transgender Day of Remembrance.


As you know, this is a somber time, when we remember those that have been lost in the last year to violence. Sometimes the price is high when one lives an authentic life. There is fear, and misunderstanding, and hatred. Whatever the number of people we recognize this evening as lost during this last year, I suspect that the true number is higher. We simply are the victims of violence far more often than could be explained by mere random chance. We are targeted.


I have a dear friend who wonders why we do this every year, I believe she says something to the effect that we are celebrating our victim hood. And I admit that the heaviness of this day weighs upon me, even though this is only my fifth Transgender Day of Remembrance. It might be easier to just let this day slide by with barely a notice, to pretend that a day to remember our dead was unnecessary. But then the easy thing isn’t always the right thing. So while I’m very happy to have been involved with a special open mic night co-hosted by The Crossing and Transcriptions as part of Trans Awareness week, which was far more positive and celebratory, I think the importance of this night can not be overstated.


This past August, I volunteered at the inaugural season of Camp Aranu’tiq, a camp specifically for trans and gender-variant kids between the ages of 8-15. I got pretty attached to those kids, and I’m sure I’ll be back next year. Those kids were amazing, and it was a joy to be around them. This is our next generation. Many of them were experiencing the thrill of being themselves for the very first time at camp. Those kids just want to live happy lives being the people they truly are.


But the reality is stark. And the world that exists presents all sorts of difficulties for those who are perceived as different from some arbitrary standard. I want the world that those kids grow into to be so much closer to perfect than the world I grew up in, and yes, even the world as it stands now. I want those kids to grow into a world where they won’t have to go to a camp to be met with unconditional understanding and acceptance. My mother, when I was very little, taught me to always know that I am no better than anyone else, and I am no worse. I believe that we can all live together, celebrating each others similarities while basking in our uniqueness.


And so it is on this night, more than any other, that it becomes of paramount importance that we stand to fear and hatred, whether from within or without, and refuse to be anything less than our full selves. It is on this night that we should embrace the rich diversity that exists within our world of community, allies, supporters, friends, family, and loved-ones. It is on this night that we must change the world.


Thank you for joining us!



  lisalee18wheeler wrote @

You once commented that there were things we would never agree on. This is one of them.

Remember the children, they need you.

  pickypenelope wrote @

I know. Fortunately we don’t have to agree about everything to be friends.

And don't worry, the kids are my primary focus in any of the community stuff I do.

  Cameron Partridge wrote @

Penny, you did such a great job last night, and the whole event was so moving.

  Tara wrote @

One of the pastors at the Hartford TDoR said something that I liked. He said that on each TDoR, we remember the dead and we renew our vow to fight like hell for the living.

  Emily wrote @

That was really beautifully put. Here’s to seeing the end of the need to have trans days of remembrance. I hope we all get to see that time.

  Max S. wrote @

Hi Penny,
This is max from camp and i found your blog quite inspirational. Me and the other girls from Congo would like to add you on face book so we would very much appreciate the link. THANKS

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