By Michelle Boonzaaier, IAM Program Manager
As I reflect on Resurrection Sunday, we find ourselves situated in day thirteen of lockdown in South Africa due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with reflections on Resurrection Sunday and COVID-19, I am aware that the Transgender Day of Visibility was commemorated on 31 March, twelve days before Resurrection Sunday, which is celebrated on 12 April this year.
With these two days of commemoration being so close to each other, I have been wondering what connection and significance these two events might have. The more I think about it, the clearer it becomes that Transgender Day of Visibility and Resurrection Sunday CANNOT be separated.
I reflect as a person of faith and as a cisgender heterosexual ally with transgender and gender non-conforming persons. As people of faith we often remind each other during Holy Week that Resurrection Sunday cannot take place without Good Friday. I have often heard these words, and on occasion even preached it, that the only way that we can celebrate Good Friday – Christ’s suffering and death on the cross – is because we know that Sunday is coming. HOPE IS AROUND THE CORNER! If we celebrate Christ’s suffering and death on its own, it appears to be insensitive to say the least, at most, insane. Through ages of theological reflection, Christ’s suffering has been romanticised by some. This has often impacted some bodies negatively, even violently. When we remember the suffering Christ, it is in order to know that God is human. God is flesh. God joins bodies that have been violated through violent theologies in their pain and is not oblivious to it.
In my reflection this Holy Week I question my own ability to offer hope “around the corner” to bodies that have often borne the negative impact of bad theologies. I mostly hear experiences of suffering shared by transgender and gender non-conforming bodies within spaces of faith. I hear about bodies that have been excluded from practices of hope during Easter celebrations.
Living with this paradox of remembering and commemorating suffering because we situate it within a deep belief that hope is true and real, and just around the corner, means that we have to pay more than just a little attention to the voices and bodies of those who speak with the authenticity of suffering without any glimmer of the hope that is promised.
As I join transgender and gender non-conforming bodies in the twelve days between Transgender Day of Visibility and Resurrection Sunday as a person of faith, I pray that HOPE IS AROUND THE CORNER. I pray that I may be a part of this as a fellow journey partner; a listener; and an advocate of hope in the time of Easter.