char – inside

All the trans news that fits! (and some that never will)

My Trans Poetry of Witness

Transgender Woman Ascending

Transgender Woman Ascending

It’s 4:08 p.m. (EST) on August 16, 2015 and, by my count,  17 trans people in the United States have been reported as being murdered or at least violently killed at the hands of another person. Some of the murders occurred a month or more ago, but the bodies of the victims are only now being found or identified. At least half the victims have been stabbed and beaten, the others beaten and shot at close range or while trying to flee, all of which suggests an insidious intimacy that is beyond my ability to explain.

Lately, reporting on the Trans community has become difficult. It is as though a dark haze is rising from the earth to meet the descending pavement colored sky . . . words drip like fracking chemicals from a kitchen faucet whenever I try to express my thoughts about the number 17.

Seventeen. That’s how many Trans people in the United States have been reported to have been murdered or at least killed violently at the hands of another person.

Seventeen. It’s a prime number, divisible by only the number ‘one’ and itself. it stands alone, like all prime numbers. Each segment of it is as stark and distinct as the number itself, but without any one of them, the whole cannot exist. Each murdered Trans person stands alone, separate from the others . . . but connected by a common thread of violence and the struggle to survive in a world that denies we ever existed.


Others have counted more. Others less.

On August 16, writer/activist Lexie Cannes posted a link to her latest blog on Facebook. For those who don’t know Lexie, she is an unapologetic and outspoken person. Sometimes, people will disagree with her comments and her thoughts. I think that means she is doing her job. Her blog has attracted nearly 1.5 million views.

When someone has that many views to their blog, it’s because they have something important to say.

But, here is what Lexie Cannes said when she posted the link to her August 16 blog on Facebook: “I’m not counting anymore. It’s a massacre, period. Please take steps to be safe.”

Michelle Fox Phillips lights the candles at the 2014 TDOR in Detroit.

Transgender activist Michelle Fox Phillips of the Gender Identity Network of America lights the candles at the 2014 TDOR memorial service in Detroit.

I’ve been feeling the same way for several days now, and that was before we had three reported murders in one day.

Three is a prime number, too.

So is one.

The facts are that 17 transgender people were killed. Maybe it was 16, or 19 . . .

Whatever the facts are, whatever the data shows, whatever the numbers add up to — The truth is in our stories, and we must be willing to tell our stories. We must remain visible, at least that is what I want so desperately to believe.

We must tell our stories because without them we will never get to the Truth (with a capital ‘T’) of anything ever in our lives. The facts will bury us, but the Truth really will set us free . . . at least, that’s the hope, right? That if we can just keep believing that staying true to our paths, individually and collectively, that we will come through this in some shape or form and we will be better for it. . . we hope and hope and hope . . .

Me . . I hope that if I keep telling the stories, or at least my story, that I will have some sort of catharsis — a spiritual cleansing, an emotional purge, a renewal of my unbreakable spirit . . .

I want to step back from myself and I want to tell me –“Try harder, Char! Try harder! I need you to try harder!”


  1. Mercedes Williamson, 17, in Rocky Creek, AL
  2. London Kiki Chanel, 21, in Philadelphia, PA
  3. Kristina Gomez Reinwald, 46, in Miami, FL
  4. Penny Proud, 21, in New Orleans, LA
  5. Taja DeJesus, 36, in San Francisco, CA
  6. Yazmin Vash Payne, 33, in Los Angeles, CA
  7. Papi Edwards, 20, in Louisville, KY
  8. Ty Underwood, 24, in North Tyler, TX
  9. Lamia Beard, 30, in Norfolk, VA
  10. India Clarke, 25, in Tampa, FL
  11. C. Haggard, 66, in Fresno, CA
  12. Bri Golec, 22, of Akron, OH
  13. Amber Monroe, 20, in Detroit, MI
  14. Angel Elisha Maurice Walker, 20, Rowan County, NC
  15. Shade Schuler, 22, Dallas, TX
  16. Ashton O’Hara, 25, Detroit, MI
  17. Mya Hall, 26, Baltimore, MD

As I am writing this, I am wondering if I should do a quick check on-line to make sure I have the number right. It’s not that the number is insignificant . . . but I am not going to check.

I can’t.

(Try harder, Char!)

I just checked.

I have decided that this blog is my Trans Poetry of Witness.

This blog will help me sleep.

Writing is cathartic.


Namaste Seventeen, Namaste.

Maybe this isn’t a poem at all.

Try harder!

I need you to try harder.


2 comments on “My Trans Poetry of Witness

  1. rozgkeith
    August 16, 2015

    Char, thank you for writing this. It’s important and relevant. I will share this widely.


  2. Lexie Cannes
    August 17, 2015

    Thanks, Char!


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This entry was posted on August 16, 2015 by in Poetry of Witness, Viability and Visibility.
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