Wolverhampton TDoR commemoration service

WP2015_20_11_020 This year I was invited to organise and host a TDoR event in Wolverhampton, which after my initial apprehension, I agreed to do on behalf of the Trust.  Why apprehensive ? Well, for me, this is an immensely personal time, I’ve lost three friends to suicide because of Transphobia since 2010, one on the actual day.  I’ve still got the text messages I sent him stored on my phone, asking if he was going to be there.  “Yes” he replied “I’m looking forward to it”, then my unanswered “where are you ? would you like to go for coffee afterwards ?”.  The next day, Karen’s message “Jo-Jo.  Can you come over please, there’s something I need to tell you in person”.

The aftermath of suicide for the people left behind is a desperate time.  Filled with grief, pain, numbness, emotional guilt and sorrow.  But out of these negative feelings and the sense of loss you feel, there comes a togetherness of people, as they support each other through that time of emptiness, confusion and regret.  So for me, this time of year has traditionally been about personal reflection and reminding myself to take care of myself and those close to me.

WP2015_20_11_018It’s been three years since Daniel took his own life.  Each year, his friends come together to remember his memory and to give Karen a hug.  We don’t need to say anything else now, much of what we’ve needed to say has been said.  Most of the tears shed.  Even so, when I asked Karen if it would be ok not to come this year, I still felt apprehensive, as if I was betraying a memory, which would haunt and gnaw away at me over the coming year.  Karen answered with silence.  Then “Yes, it feels right to move on now.  You’ll still send flowers though ?  Maybe we should now meet each anniversary say 5 years ?”

“I’d like that. Yes”

So, on November 20th 2015 on a bitterly cold night, I and 11 people gathered in Wolverhampton City Centre to pay our respects, and remember the people who have been murdered or committed suicide in the past 11 months.  276 names like Daniels that used to mean something to those close to him and are now consigned to memory.  It took me almost 20 minutes to read them all, their names, their ages, the way they were murdered and where.  It’s impossible not to weep when you’re doing it.  Particularly when you say “Unknown”.  I think I said it over 30 times this year.  Sometimes, with the words, “beaten and disfigured”, sometimes “dismembered” once, I even read “burnt alive”.

Can you imagine the hatred that moves someone to kill another person ? Let alone these ways ? I know I can’t. It’s harrowing when you see it in black and white in front of you.   As you read through the list, the brutality and finality of what you are doing slowly sinks into you.  You see the candle flame flicker and you’re overcome by its delicacy and fragility being a sad metaphor for the event and deaths.  It’s an immensely harrowing and moving experience and having undertaken it, I have a newfound respect for anyone that does it.  It’s not simply reading names of a list, you can never lose sight of them as people, if you do, you lose a sense of yourself and your own compassion.

If you get a chance to go to an event near you, please do.  Show your support for people who have died for nothing more than just trying to be themselves.  You can add 2016s event to your calendar by clicking on the below link

http://www.cute-calendar.com/event/transgender-day-of-remembrance/18544.html

For details of events near you, be sure to check out the main TDoR events page at

http://tdor.info/

or check in with your local trans group who will have more details nearer the time.

 

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