Ten years ago, I hopped on my newly-purchased bicycle which I had named Donkey, and set out on an adventure that would change my life, though I didn’t know it at the time. Donkey and I set out from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and rode 689 miles to Sumter, South Carolina, staying with Episcopal families along the way. Ten years ago, I’d just lost a dear friend to malaria and was devasted that the life-saving nets and medicines were not available to people. And so I rode because I could not stay still. I could not stay silent. I raised money for the Episcopal Relief and Development program, Nets for Life.
This Tuesday I will ride again in remembrance of our first ride ten years ago, and because, once again, my heart has been ripped open. So I ride because I cannot stay still. I cannot stay silent. I ride because trans and non-binary people like myself have to live each day in fear for our lives. We have to live each day constantly being erased, mocked, dehumanized, bullied, hated for who we are. I ride for all the times we’ve been called mistakes when we are beautifully and wonderfully created by God. I ride for my children, for those who come after, and for those now who cannot live fully as they are because of fear, of hate, of transphobia. I ride for all the intersex people. I ride in honour of Marsha P. Johnson, the transperson who had just had enough, and threw the first brick at the Stonewall riots. I ride because last week the government decided they’d like to try to erase us; to say we don’t exist; that there is only male and female. I ride because our basic rights are being threatened. There are moves to take away our housing and jobs, and increase hate and discrimination. And, I, for one, cannot sit idly by while that happens. I’ve had enough.
My name is AJ Buckley, I am an Episcopal priest and I’m trans and non-binary. I exist and I won’t be erased. And, so, I ride. I ride for the 22 transgender persons who have been violently murdered in 2018 alone. I ride for Christa,for Viccky, for Celine, for Tonya, for Zakaria, for Phylicia, for Amia, for Sasha W., for Karla, for Nino, for Gigi, for Anatash’a, for Diamond, for Cathalina, for Keisha, for Sasha G. , for Vontashia, for Dejanay, for Shantee, for Londonn, for Nikki, for Ciara and for all those who died by suicide and the other nameless victims. I will ride, I will speak up, I will be out for all those who cannot be. I ride for the rights of trans people. I ride for the dignity of every human being as the Baptismal Covenant calls me to do. I ride, that one day, we might all be treated as equally human; that no one will be treated as lesser because of who they are. I ride for an end to discrimination. I ride as an awareness that we’re here, we’re trans, and we’re not going anywhere. We will not be erased. We will not be silenced. We will not sit idly by; we cannot.
So, on Tuesday, October 30th, I will ride from Corvallis to our yearly Diocese of Oregon convention in Seaside. If you, too, cannot sit still, cannot be silent, I invite you to donate to TransEpiscopal who are some good and faithful servants doing the work of Jesus, loving our trans and non-binary neighbors. To donate, please use the following link: http://www.transepiscopal.org/donate.html
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. AJ Buckley