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“I came here to die.”
I had no idea the impact those five words were about to have on me.
I sat in a pew at First Presbyterian Church for our yearly Transgender Day of Remembrance program. The Washington County Gay Straight Alliance gathers once a year to remember deceased transgender persons who died from violence with a memorial program and candlelight walk.
It had been stressful preparing for this event. It is a lot to ask transgender people to expose themselves to the harsh realities of being killed just for being who they are. It’s one thing to feel comfortable among your friends and peers at WCGSA – it’s another to stand in front of strangers and talk about how your transgender brothers and sisters are dying by violence. I wasn’t surprised when two potential participants passed on speaking. To my relief, Sarah asked me if she could come forward and say a prayer. I was pleased that she would be participating at this event.
Sarah sat beside me and handed me her prayer. It was long and beautifully heart-felt. And then the zinger: she said “I came here to die.”
I looked at her and asked, “What do you mean?”
She explained. She had left her home, wife, and children in Ohio to move to Washington to die away from them. Then she continued, “But now I am here to live. I found support with you all at the WCGSA, my new neighbors, and a church where I feel welcome. So now I am here to live.” It took me a few moments to compose myself.
The program was well done and wonderfully attended for a rainy day. The walk up to Main Street and back to The CENTER on Strawberry, holding candles encased in holders with the name of a deceased transgender person that died from violence, was somber and impactful. But all I could think of were Sarah’s words: “I came here to die.”
I was overwhelmed that what we are doing in “little” Washington, the partnerships we are creating, and the hearts we are changing are worth every minute of every day that we volunteer our time and devote our support to the people of our LGB and especially “T” community.
We are all here to Save the Sarahs.