Earlier this year, my partner and I were privileged to be a part of a unique community, composed entirely of people in transition. It was healing, heartwarming and eye-opening to be among so many transgendered people from so many backgrounds and different paths. But what do plastic bathtub ducks have to do with Transgender Day of Remembrance? How could something so frivolous and silly dare take part in such a solemn occasion?
While it is important to toll the bells, pull out the photos and mourn their often violent passings, it is equally important to celebrate life. The community I refer to, HOPE House in Phoenix, Arizona, does exactly that. The first time I saw the plastic bathtub ducks in the pool there, I had to smile. They were such a silly thing, and seemingly meaningless. But those ducks symbolize the lives all of us lead: no matter what you do to them, they bob right back to the surface, still happily creating a bright yellow parade that refuses to be ignored, belittled or swept aside. Suck them into the pool drain and they emerge, sometimes scratched and scored, to resume their blithe path. Only total destruction stops them, and that is the connection.
Those who we remember today should not be made into perpetual victims. Instead, I choose to celebrate their life, their vibrancy, their beauty and their spirits: with plastic bathtub ducks.