(Photo of S. Isaac Dowds)

I chose the name “Isaac” as my legal name because it means “laughter,” and because I relate to Isaac’s story. It is what I do in times of adversity, a trait I inherited from my father. No matter how dire the circumstances, when the going gets tough, I laugh. A lot.

November 20th, Transgender Day of Remembrance, is not a day I observe out of mere obligation. It is necessary to my very existence to commemorate the ones who might not be as lucky as me. Anyone who knows me would find this amusing. I am a 26-year-old, Jew by choice, transman who came out and began physically transitioning in the wondrous state of Kansas, well-known both for its Jewish-friendly ways and its overwhelmingly liberal acceptance of people outside of the binary gender system. I say this, tongue in cheek, because I have been outrageously lucky. I go to a small Catholic liberal arts university where the Order the sisters belong to is liberal, (The Vatican finds their Pro-Queer-Catholic support annoying) and the faculty consists largely of Unitarian Universalists, Episcopalians and the odd liberal Mormon.

Even with a conservative and moderate student body, the atmosphere on campus is one of the most welcoming ones I have ever had the chance to experience. Strangely enough, as I have said time and time again on LGBTQ Coming Out Panels, the local state university would be (and *has been*) far less accepting of someone like me. Even though I count myself lucky, I have been bashed before — both verbally and physically.

Back story aside, I will be spending this Day of Remembrance at local ZoomDweebie’s Tea Bar lighting a yahrzeit candle and saying Kaddish for 30 souls who were not as fortunate. 30 people who were killed for the simple “crime” of being who they were. There are some beautiful souls on the list this year. A few on the list are so beautiful, I can only assume they were executed for passing better than most biologically gendered folk. While I am sipping tea and reminding Kansans that the T is not silent, I can’t help but think about how tea leaves are always multicolored. Even the white tea has brown and yellow hues in the leaves. Which brings me to my next point.

Over two thirds of the names on the list of those who were killed are people of color. That’s right. Beautiful trans people of color are being killed left and right and all we can spare is one day a year? I can’t believe the number of the dead has more than doubled in the past year. I can’t believe only Washington has the guts to declare (as a state) November 20th as Transgender Day of Remembrance. I can’t believe people are still as close-minded as they were last year. Haven’t we evolved as a nation past this point yet?

Of course, Thomas Beatie and his wife have just recently announced that he is pregnant with their second child. We live in exciting times where people are no longer afraid to be who they are…even if that means pregnant men and mothers who donate sperm. Fear can cause the destruction of entire groups of people, as we all well know. And people shouldn’t have to be afraid of who they are. People should *never* have to fear themselves.

Other things on my mind are of course the “Twilight” movie that comes out at midnight. I’ll admit that even I have fallen for fictional perfect vampire boyfriends like Edward Cullen. I even purport to have found my own Edward in my current FTM partner. And of course, my 27th birthday is on Sunday, regardless of the fact that I look like I’m 15. My next testosterone injection will either be today or Friday. I say B’rachot with each shot.

“Barukh Ata Ad-nai Eloykeinu Melekh Ha-Olam, Ha’Ma’avir et ha’Ovrim.” before and “Barukh Ata Ad-nai Eloykeinu Melekh Ha-Olam Sh’asani B’tzalmo v’kirtzonah. Barukh Ata Ad-nai Eloykeinu Melekh Ha-Olam Sh’hechianu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu, la-zman hazeh.” (courtesy of Rabbi Eli Kukla).

So, what do I think about on Transgender Day of Remembrance? Life. I’m thinking about how I will survive until the next memorial. How will we survive as a people in the upcoming year? I’m praying that this will be the last time we’ll need to meet like this. I’m hoping that this will be the last time we’ll have to educate to avoid being killed. L’Chaim!