For Trans Awareness Week, we did a lot of moving about on a short schedule, short schedule meaning on short notice. While our activities actually started the week before, attending a panel discussion at the University of Illinois in Champaign and a day of lectures at St Louis Community College, best just to start on the 14th of November.
We had sponsored the film Paulista at the St Louis International Film Festival. A nice ‘trans-positive’ film that reaches out to all in the Community. We first attended the “I Care Campaign Kickoff’ event, I Care being a St Louis Regional referral network of organizations and groups providing referral to other entities for most every sector of the LGBT* world here. Afterwards and on to the Tivoli Theater, the film was great, knowing that from being there at the acceptance screening for the festival. A bit sparse in attendance, but that did’t rally bother me. The film had come to St Louis. On Tuesday the 16th the film was shown again, this time with a larger turnout. Success was all I could think.
Thursday, Sayer (Johnson, Director at TransHaven) and I did a long day of panel discussions and lectures. First over to Washington University in St Louis at the Brown School of Social Work. We did about a hour of Q&A after a short introductory discussions on TransHaven and then we each individually spoke a little about ourselves. Very nice group of people, I think Sayer out did me in a few of the explanations. Good for him!
From there, I drove back to my office, did a few things, grabbed my husband who was there waiting for me and drove over to Edwardsville, Illinois to Southern Illinois University to meet up with Sayer once again. There we spoke with two younger folks, a young trans guy and a GenderQueer individual. This event went on for over two hours in which the four of us seemed to keep the questions coming. The topics ranged from TDOR, transphobia and transitioning so everything pretty much was led bare, and eventually, we closed down the discussion and went outside for the Vigil portion of the evening. For the Vigil, we went outside in a quadrangle area and formed a circle around a large rock in the center of the area. The slips of paper were passed out and the reading of the names began, and ended, in the silence we know all too well.
Friday night, I met up with Shane Fairchild, the organizer for the St Louis Memorial and Vanessa Edwards Foster who had come up to St Louis to be the keynote speaker for the Memorial. I had no idea what to expect as I had little contact with her beforehand despite being ‘friends’ on Facebook. Shane had told me she was going to be the speaker so I did read up on her but there was so much, I didn’t get through it all. As it was, it was a delightful evening with this charming woman, very fun to be with yet dead serious in her work for the Transgender Community. My kind of person.
Saturday was a long, long day for us. We met Colin Murphy of the Vital Voice, Colby Kluthe of the Daniel McCree Foundation at the City Diner where Brother Dean Rose brought Vanessa to join up. After that quick, bleary-eyed breakfast, Colby, Colin, Vanessa and I made the two and a half hour drive to Columbia for the Missouri Youth Empowerment Summit at the University of Missouri in Columbia.
The Youth Summit was something to behold. Youth from around the state gathered to attend workshops intended to empower them and to encourage them to begin their journey as our future Community Leaders. The Summit began with a Transgender Day of Remembrance Memorial, led by the Youth. Somber as it should as the Names were read yet followed by a discussion with a hope for the end to the violence.
Having spent a short few hours at the Summit, the roadtrip bunch headed back home to St Louis. Another uneventful trip though Vanessa later remarked that a ‘bumpy miscue’ in steering interrupted her nap. Now forever regretful, this driver hopes that does not preclude another visit by her friend. But we arrived safely at TransHaven’s offices other than the previously said ruffled feathers (said in humor of course). A luncheon previously prepared and set out, and all sat and chatted about the morning events.
As the evening came on, we left TransHavens’s offices and easily enough walked next door to St John’s (Epsicopal Church) and filed into to sit. There were many attending, representing a large cross-section of the Community. The time came as the Memorial was opened by Shane and the service began by Rev Teresa Danieley.
Vanessa followed with with her speech, preceeded by a long moment of silence to remember all that have been lost.
The Names are always the hardest moment for myself. This was the third time in three days that I heard them, Dean Rose and Blue Fairchild (as Dee Enfosah) read them with great courage, there was no lessening of sorrow to hear them yet again. As the Memorial ended, we all had the hope that these would be last to read.
Robyn Carolyn Montague