It took the beautifully delivered message of hope provided by Chicago's ResonaTe transgender choir to raise the somber mood of the audience who attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Nov. 20 at Lake View's Center on Halsted.
With the number of murders of transgender individuals in the United States at the highest ever recorded and the threat against transgender civil rights presented by the incoming Trump administration, there was reason behind Center Director of Trans Relations and Community Engagement Vanessa Sheridan's welcome.
"We live in times that are perhaps more perilous than ever for trans people," she said before noting the importance of expressing love and respect for the transgender community "in the face of national indifference and hatred" and to "remind cisgender people that we are their daughters, sons, parents, friends, coworkers, neighbors and lovers."
The moment of silence which followed for the transgender fallen seemed as bleak as it was somber.
Then ResonaTe took the stage led by co-founder and executive director Liz Jackson Hearns alongside co-founder and artistic director Zakary Siler.
Their program of ethereal ballads mixed with songs of love, loss and hope had the audience on its feet in a jubilant ovationa testament both to the transformative power of music and the visibly joyous ensemble Hearns and Siler created to flourish it.
"The Trans community does a lot of remembering." ResonaTe member Lee Hanten said in a profound and deeply personal reflection. "We remember childhoods spent answering to the wrong name, we remember the loss of a past self. We remember what life was like before the great gender upheaval and how much better life could be now. We remember the names of strangers who didn't get to see their next birthday. We remember to live our lives loving every moment that we get because too many of them are cut short."
"Today I remember that I am an American," Hanten added. "I remember waiting in line to cast a ballot for the future, the dread watching election results roll in. Mostly, I remember how much our community has already overcome and I refuse to let this sentient glass of Tang pretending to be my president be my undoing. We've done of lot of figuring things out in the past. Let's remember how to do it again."