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Speech by Syd Michael Robinson at the 2012 Milwaukee Transgender Day of Remembrance. In it he discusses his transition.

Dearest Friends,

Today, all over the world, there are programs and vigils being held for Transgender Day of Remembrance. As, I’m saying this, the impact of what that means is settling into my mind. It’s truly amazing to think that so many people who identify as transgender and as allies of their friends and loved ones are gathered today in remembrance of those who have laid down their very lives in an effort to be only themselves.

My transgender identity was evident to me early in my childhood. I knew that I identified as male, but growing up as my mother’s daughter, added a complexity to my life that I could not grasp.  I had no word for what I felt or any idea that I would grow up into manhood. Even now, I sometimes pass the mirror and take a quick glance not expecting to see me, as I am now; still not expecting it after all this time!  I’ve been physically transitioning from Female to Male over the past 5 years. At times, going through this process has felt painstakingly slow. I’ve often felt disconnected from the way I feel inside and the way I look in the mirror.

Some years ago, when an acquaintance of mine began to transition, I was unaware of what he was going through and rather than ask, I simply assumed he would tell me, if he really wanted me to know. It wasn’t until two years later that I understood that something as massive as transitioning gender is not always easily explained and is not always easily understood—even by the one in transition.

Finding my voice has been my challenge and I still struggle at times to speak up and interrupt ignorance. I must keep my safety and the safety of my loved ones in mind, but there is no shield like that of the truth and there is no weapon that can truly harm someone who is free from fear. In recent months, I have been very open about my life. Being so open has come as a bit of surprise to me, especially because I hadn’t imagined being free enough from the fear and judgment to let my self be known. After moving into a new section of my life, I began to love myself in the moment and value the person I am. There are still days when I lack confidence but I have started to slowly open myself up to others.  From this newly developed sense of open communication, I’ve felt a sort of freedom that has added so much to my overall happiness and I have become extremely interested in the stories of others. I have learned however, that life requires balance, and for all of the joy that has come from being so open, I have seen that being open can also solicit the attention of people who do not understand me and their curiosity gets the better of them. When this happens, I experience feelings if confusion and anguish. It isn’t until I confront and acknowledge those feelings, that I can rest my mind and get back to my personal center.

Despite this, there is no better feeling than being my own true self.  I encourage everyone to remember that although feelings of isolation can creep in and it seems like there is no one who could possibly understand, this is a day of world wide remembrance. Not just in our own minds, not just in our city, the Midwest region, or even in our nation. World. WideRemembrance. On this day I will not only remember those who lost their lives but I will remember those who live on. I will remember my past, and the places I’ve come from. I will remember that I am among friends.

I sincerely hope that you know that you may not have to search very far to find a kindred spirit. In fact, your best friend could be looking back at you in the mirror. I end this letter of love to you, with an excerpt from Marianne Williamson’s book

 A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

“We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I honor those who are gone from this world and I wish you all peace and joy wherever you may roam.


This piece of writing was submitted and read at the Milwaukee Wisconsin Transgender Day of Remembrance event on November 19, 2012.

Read other Milwaukee TDOR 2012 speeches: