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Sun Dec 2, 2012, 06:00 PM

TC Tolbert: Vena Amoris

This is my latest column, a guest column. On transgender, LGBT and violence issues. -WB

TC Tolbert: Vena Amoris

I am going to give up my writing space for a guest column by poet TC Tolbert. S/He is the Assistant Director of Tucson literary center, Casa Libre En La Solana http://casalibre.org/ where this essay originally appeared. I have the author's permission to share it in full. - Bill Wetzel

Vena Amoris

by TC Tolbert

I'm on a relatively small plane on my way to Denver. I'm in the window seat. There's no middle, just the guy in the aisle seat whose elbow keeps grazing my arm. We're both white men. He's 6'1, maybe 6'2, muscular. I'm 5'8, 150. He is not unkind. I'm bad at this sort of thing but I'd say he's in the neighborhood of 220 pounds. Right away he put the armrest down and got comfortable. He's sleeping now or trying to. Elbows outnumber armrests. We are close but we are not intimate. Presumably we are meant to negotiate the space.

A few years ago I started a trans awareness project called Made for Flight . I visit classrooms, Gay-Straight Alliances, and youth centers and talk about trans identities, violence, how to be an ally. We make a kite for each trans woman who has been murdered during the year. We walk with those kites during the All Souls Procession (and if you want to join us, we would welcome you - see below). I am constantly saying these words: Two trans women are murdered each month here in the US. A trans woman (usually a trans woman of color who is a sex worker) is murdered every other day worldwide. Does saying this change anything for trans women? What does it mean to be complicit? When Janet Mock says, Every time there's a trans woman of color in the media, she's getting killed. It wrecks our souls. To whom or to what is she pointing? Do the dead women give a goddamn about all of those kites?

It is on the plane that I realize how long it's been since I've felt willingly vulnerable. In "A Brief for the Defense," Jack Gilbert says, "We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight." I went to a performance of John Cage's Sonatas and Interludes last night because my heart is absolutely desperate for surprise.


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