Trans Day of Remembrance has come to represent a rallying cry with hashtags like #BlackTransLivesMatter and #SayHerName calling attention to murders and violence fueled by widespread transphobia. For too long, the trans community (especially trans people of color) and the issues that affect us have been shoved aside, dismissed, or ignored entirely. 20 years ago, it represented huge progress when Gwendolyn Ann Smith started the holiday as an internet-based project made to commemorate the loss of a dear friend of hers by the name of Rita Hester. Over the years, we have come to demand more than this sole annual acknowledgement. We are proud to be a part of what we see as a new stage in our movement–one in which trans people, our experiences, and our insights can be valued as we live. We are here to fight for a world where we see trans people of colors as full complex people, not merely as statistics or tragedies.
We have spent the last week hosting Trans Day of Remembrance events from Portland to Chicago and the Shenandoah Valley because we see them as an opportunity for honoring our ancestors, building community, and activating the allies we need all year long. On the heals this especially painful time of year, we known many trans people are delving into a holiday season that can bring even more emotional minefields. Many of us feel so embattled just survive in this world that it seems like we don’t have the luxury to care for ourselves. However, we want to challenge ourselves and one another to see self-care as an essential form of movement building.
You are not alone. You are beautiful. You’re worthy of all that you desire. You are loved. And you deserve space for healing. We want to love as hard as we fight, so we bring you some reflections on self-care to help you through the holidays.
1. Practice radical self-love.
Seriously. I recently was listening to a speech by a popular Guru and he asked the question, “If I were to ask you to make a list of everything you love and appreciate in your life, how long would it take for you to include yourself?”
Practice radical self-love. Practice radical self-love. I repeat, practice radical self-love.
Recent statistics show that 41% of transgender people reported attempting suicide at some point in time during their life. That number is over 25x greater than the suicide rate of the average population. This sole statistic alone is enough to show anyone how great the struggles are facing the our community. If you need to talk, reach out to the Trans Lifeline at: US: (877) 565-8860 CANADA: (877) 330-6366. Trans Lifeline is by and for our community, and is staffed by all transgender-identified operators.
The road to self-love and self-care isn’t easy and it doesn’t come without fighting for it. It takes action. It takes you making the decision, right here, right now that you are at a crossroads in your life and you have two choices colon:
- You can put your value, self-worth and happiness in the hands of others and keep it dependent on your ever-changing circumstances. OR
- You can decide once and for all that your value is inherent and indisputable. A diamond is a diamond no matter what anyone says, no matter how rough, no matter how beaten, no matter how dirtied it is because it is fundamentally at its very essence — a diamond. Point blank.
2. Don’t go it alone.
If you can get one takeaway from this entire piece it should be to understand that you are not alone in your struggles and pursuit of happiness. So don’t go it alone. Find your support system. Whether it be family, friends, acquaintances or those who are yet to be, find them.
At our very essence, we thrive off of connection. If you find that you have no one close to turn to, reach out to the innumerable groups, collectives, communities and organizations out there specifically put in place to help facilitate the joys of friendship.
Sometimes there’s just something special about being around those that understand your unique perspective and situations in life. It’s a beautiful thing when people get together and are able to support each other because they fundamentally and wholeheartedly understand what each other is going through on a cellular level.
Companionship in any way shape or form with any person of any background is inconceivably beautiful. When that companionship can also shares the common threads of your identity, it’s even that much more beautiful.
Connecting with the transgender community is easier than it’s ever been with new groups, events, and resources available all the time all over the US (and beyond). Trans people have practically taken over the internet by the thousands via youtube, Redit, and Tumblr.
Trans goes well with everything 😉 Any intersection you can think of, it’s out there.
4. Find your unique path of self-expression.
As a human being you are so unbelievably multi-dimensional and wonderfully unique that it’s actually quite sickening. Finding your unique path of self-expression is fundamentally important in order to foster internal symbiosis.
What is your outlet? What makes you happy? What makes you thrive in life? It could be anything from the arts to volunteering or just making YouTube videos and talking about your day or giving life advice or playing video games, whatever — you get the point.
Isolate the things that make your heart well up with joy and happiness when you partake in them and make them a part of your regular routine.
5. Meditation and self-reflection.
A Harvard research study back in 2011 was the first of its kind in finding that mindfulness meditation is clinically proven to restore gray matter. The study found that participants who volunteered for an 8 week mindfulness meditation program were found to have significant changes in the regions of their brains “associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress.”
A Stanford study also found significant benefits from the practice of transcendental meditation techniques. In short — meditation works. So whether you set aside 5-15 minutes every morning, every evening, or just on your way to Starbucks for meditation and/or some form of tranquil self-reflection, just do it. Everyone needs to unplug and wind down in order to recalibrate and get back to center.
These habits are scientifically proven to have a measurable impact on your stress levels psychological health and overall sense of well-being.
6. Tune in, turn up.
One of my favorite acronyms is one that I learned in grade school called “GIGO”. It stands for “ garbage in, garbage out” and it basically means that whatever you surround yourself with and fill your mind with will emanate from yourself in terms of your attitude, behaviors and actions.
In fact, studies show that up to 75% of our daily activities are determined by our subconscious mind. So make sure that your radio is turned on and tuned in to the channel of positivity. Surround yourself with positive people and in positive environments. If you find that this isn’t the case for your life, then take action to make it so. We are sponges, and we soak up whatever environment we are immersed in. So make it your goal to immerse yourself in positivity and vehemently rid yourself of anything or anyone that isn’t so.
7. Make a difference.
Even at our lowest points, we can find joy in giving and helping others also struggling and in need. It doesn’t take much — a smile, opening a door, a text or a phone call.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, then check in with a local support group, activist organization or cultural group. America in Transition is always looking for interns who can support on social media and folks who getting involved in hosting a local screening, so contact us if that sounds like your jam!
Being a beacon of light and positivity to others not only helps distract us from our personal struggles but it also boosts self-efficacy and helps open our minds up to the beauty of the world around us. At every moment, around every corner there is an opportunity for love.
We hope we’ve helped you reflect on the role of radical self-love and self-care in your life. Because you deserve every ounce, every sliver, every millisecond of happiness, joy and peace that can be afforded to you during your precious singular existence.
Thank you for existing. Thanks for being you! #TransIsBeautiful