Is it time for a Transgender Day of Rest?

You may have noticed that my workplace did not have a Transgender Day of Visibility post this year. We usually try to mark all the major occasions that are meaningful to people with HIV in all their diversity. As our sole trans staff member I wrote a piece last year about the lack of trans HIV data, but this year I had no ideas and I just wasn’t feeling it. I carefully made time with a treasured friend to catch up and pick their brain — then I slept right through my alarm and missed it. Normally I am motivated by (and only by) impending deadlines but this time around the sense of urgency just made me drag my feet. So I decided to stop, and listen to my reluctance, and ask myself what I need.

And it turns out I need what my lovely Victorian colleague Kenton Miller once proposed: a Transgender Day of Rest. A day after the day — not necessarily April 1st — where we focus on giving our trans allies a moment to breathe and just be. This is quietly radical in a context in which our lives are under constant attack, and it would take a major effort on the part of allies to offer trans people a meaningful break from this pressured existence. To me, it would look like a paid day off work, a break from mainstream and social media — all too often just a drip-fed litany of dread — and time for my craft, which is writing.

Now I know that if I’m feeling tired, there are many others doing it really tough — ‘playing life on its hardest setting’ (as the saying goes). As an educated white middle-class person my personal resources are protected by my privilege. I have worked extensively with migrant, Indigenous and low income communities on health issues where time is a crucial factor in health. Not having control of your own time is incredibly stressful, which is bad for your health in its own right, but it also means you can’t set aside time for that mammogram. 

Living like that long-term is a recipe for bone-deep tiredness. So I want to acknowledge that there is an epidemic of exhaustion, and it is unevenly distributed as epidemics always are. With a Trans Day of Rest I want to create a public acknowledgement that we are all tired, but trans women and people of colour are doing the most and deserve that break most of all. Equally, it would acknowledge that the anti-trans agenda, in both its right-wing and centre-left forms, is a constant onslaught on our sense of validity, security and safety.

Rest is radical. It’s not ‘getting more done with less,’ it’s giving this soft animal of our body reassurance it is not right now being chased by a bear.

Updates

  • Thanks to my friend Kath for bringing to my attention a Transgender Day of Rest initiative thought-up independently by the gorgeously wise and talented nonbinary burlesque clown ThemmeFatale.
  • Thanks also to my lovely friend Roz Chia Davis for sharing this random post on Facebook that utterly resonates: ‘Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.’ —Maya Angelou (Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now)

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