THE WITHERED DAISY - Akull Kumar

He stumbled into the thrift store with his friend, nervous, fidgety, tugging at the sleeves of his hoodie. He went straight for the trial room, took off his bag, and locked himself in, and turned to look at himself in the mirror. He looked into his own eyes which seemed to ask “are you sure?” He closed his eyes, took in a deep breath, and proceeded to take out from his bag a dress— yellow with pretty little daisies on it. He quickly changed into the dress, wore his makeup, and looked up to the mirror. 


This was it. He was no longer Abel, a cisgender male, but rather his actual self, Daisy, a transgender woman. 

A feeling of warmth spread through her chest when she heard her friend compliment her appearance using her chosen name. She stopped in her tracks as she was about to step out the door of the shop. Daisy. This is who she was. This was her true identity and for the first time, she would be going out into the world as herself. 


Her first pride parade.  


As they walked down the street, the guffaws, the cheers, and the music became clearer and louder. They turned the corner and stopped to look upon the vast ocean of rainbow, spreading the entire length of the street. The street was filled with people of various colour, ethnicity, and age, there were gay men, bisexuals, straight allies, and members of all the other identities and sexualities. But her eyes were caught by a group, laughing, dancing in their beautiful dresses and makeup— the drag queens. They looked proud, confident, brave and Daisy couldn’t help but smile at the fact that she belonged to one of the strongest group of women in the world, a group who’s legacy included leaders like Marsha P.

Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. She caught the eye of one of the queens, who then came up to her and asked her to join them and she went, brimming with joy and excitement. 


The parade started and those who had to, started rushing to their positions. It started with an address by the organizers, speaking about the history of pride— “June 28th, 1969. A day that began with rising voices. Why did LGBTQIA+ people need to be treated this way? What crime had they committed by loving another human being? Is that not what God teaches? To love. To live… and let live?


These questions and the thought of “enough is enough’ is what gave rise to the movement we now know as ‘The Stonewall Riots’— the time the LGBTQIA+ community rallied behind one black transgender woman to, for the first time, burn instead of getting burnt. Literally. “


She looked on with wonder at the floats passing by and the people, dressed boldly, confidently dance and smile and enjoy themselves thoroughly. 


She stood at the side of the road, looking at the floats, the people, the music, and a sweet smile came on her lips which soon turned into a grin. This was where she was meant to be. These people were her people. This was her safe space. 


But then her eyes fell on a group of people behind barricades throwing shoes and bottles, at the marchers and shouting obscenities at them at the top of their voice. These were the supposed “people of god”. 


She couldn’t help but look at those people and think of how much the LGBTQIA+ community had achieved legally, and how little they had come socially. 


Humanity had taken a step forward. Humanity was growing...or so it seemed.  


Behind the parades, the rainbows and glitters of happiness lay a rather harsh reality. The laws may have changed but the mindset of the people hadn’t. To people, the members of the community were still just “freaks of nature”. 


To people, a gay couple was just, two “freaks”. Yes, maybe a rather debatable term but when a lesbian couple, is beaten up and left on a bus bleeding and knocked out with broken noses and several broken facial bones by a group of men because they refused to kiss in front of the men for their entertainment, then the phrase “freak” accurately describes what those men think those women to be. 


When the mayor of a small town in Alabama in a public statement says that “killing LGBTQ people is the only way to solve society’s problems” it shows just how ‘far’ our society has come, from denying the existence of LGBTQIA+  people and killing them for it to, well, yet again denying their existence and killing them for it. 


She thought to herself—THIS is what our ‘modern’ society looks like—


A society that can’t accept two human beings being in love. Which can’t handle a person being happy and proud of who they are and who they love. A society that is ready to kill a person just for loving another person of the same gender. 


A society which would rather believe that a person made it rain bread than believe that a person can be born into the wrong body. 


A society where people need to fight to have the right to exist. To be recognized as a human being, to be recognized as a living being. 


A society which says “change is happening. just remain patient” and then goes on to vote for leaders who are trying to pass legislation to allow people to be fired for being transgender.


A society that fails to understand, that they will never understand what an LGBTQIA+ person goes through— the hate, the self-hate, the looming danger of being beaten up, and left for dead. 


While it has been 51 years since The Stonewall Riots, the year 2020 is still just part of the beginning.


Evening came and so did the end of the parade. Daisy for the first time in a long time felt happy and accepted. She felt like she would always have someone in the community to depend on. With these thoughts bringing a smile to her cheeks she started back home. 


I really wish I could finish the story here, on a happy note, but sadly that’s not the reality of our Daisy, and neither is it the reality of many others like her. 


She walked through a park, skipping and jumping like she was on cloud 9 when looming shadows

brought to her attention that she was being followed. She turned around and before she could react she was pushed to the ground, and surrounded by five men. 


She saw the first kick come. She felt the boot connect with her jaw, followed by a burst of pain as she coughed up blood, while the men jeered at her.


  She’d always wondered back when she was in the closet, barely a month ago,  how anyone could ever harbour hate towards the community? How anyone could hate a people so much that it drove them to murder any and every member of the community?

 

Today, as she rolled to her side, dragged her legs and brought her knees to her chest, and clutched her now bloody trans flag closer to her chest, her questions were answered. 


Her hand fell and the daisies on her blood-stained dress withered. 


The confident Daisy who had stepped out of a thrift shop to claim the world just a few hours ago as now reduced to nothing but another name, another statistic of the numerous hate-driven murders of transgender women. Another trans woman who would never receive justice. Another trans woman who would not get to live her life because some privileged straight cis men decided that her life meant nothing. 

Another name, just to be forgotten.