A funny thing happened on the way to freedom… resilience! Resilience, according to Google, is “the ability of a substance, object or [person] to spring back into shape.” It is apparent given today’s circumstance that trans folks are resilient and resisting systems of oppression.

Living while trans is a thing, a real thing. It came to my attention from a sister on the frontlines of the battle for trans rights in North Carolina, that trans folks are not just sitting idly by waiting for salvation. We are actively working to repeal HB2 and to elect candidates who have our best interest at heart. In fact, on the eve of election day, trans folk’s door knocking for Hillary were harassed by residents and had the police called on them at least twice for doing nothing but being trans while campaigning. There were some folks in the trans door knocking delegation that did not want these incidents to get out but we have to let folks know what we are facing. We cannot suffer these indignities in silence. Haven’t we learned that silence equals death? Our resilience depends on raising our voices to tell our stories and speak out against discrimination and transphobia. Our voice and our visibility are the springboards of justice.

As I sit at the feet of elders in our community, I am struck by their harrowing stories of survival and near-death experiences. Listening to trans men and trans women recount “back in the day” when they had to go through extraordinary lengths to get hormones and basic health care creates within me a profound sense of thanks and gratitude. Their sacrifices paved the way for us to have what we have today. And by no means are we living lives in total freedom, but what we do have in many respects is progress. From the first black president to be the first president to publicly say the word transgender in a speech to being able to change birth gender and names without proof of surgery on one’s birth certificate, we have made significant progress. But we all know we are far from total freedom of life and liberty. There is still more work to do but we must acknowledge the wins we have had on the way to total victory. It is imperative that we celebrate ourselves even while we fight.

What gives me hope is our ability to make a way out of what seems no way. What gets me up in the morning is the thought there is a kid like me somewhere in the world who needs to see a grown man like me and know that transition is possible. What makes me thankful is the opportunity to live one more day knowing that I walk in alignment and authenticity and that there are thousands who do daily. Truthfully, there are a great cloud of witnesses, seen and unseen, who bear witness to our presences, our selves, and our struggle for a better day. In fact, they silently cheer us. These are ancestors, spirit friends, and loved ones who continue to light our way to freedom someday.