Sister Soami DeLux is one of the founding members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. We here in Tennessee are blessed to have her living emeritus in our presence. Her name used to be Sister Missionary Position(Sister Mish). She never wears white face, and on occasion we Sisters manifest without the makeup as well. It’s called Mish face.
I attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony last night, along with several other Sisters, in Mish face. In passing, a couple of people inquired about the missing glamour and fabulousness. I smiled and replied, “It’s an option.”
Part of being a Sister is reflecting the beauty of our community, specifically the LGBT community. Often when we’re out and folks have had a little to drink, they’ll come up to us and say, “You’re so beautiful!” Most of the Music City Sisters wear a mirror on their bibs. It’s one of those “objects appear closer than they are” mirrors you can buy at Auto Zone. When we get complements from people, we stick our chests toward their faces so they can see themselves in the mirror and we reply, “No, you’re beautiful!”
Going out in Mish face can be unnerving. Without the clown white, the eyelashes, the colorful makeup, and the lipstick, I am made bare and vulnerable. The habit of dress, cornette, wimple, and bib set me apart and make me stand out, but I don’t have a mask behind which to hide. I am in public more authentically me, and it’s scary.
Last night I heard the names read of transgender folk who were either murder or who killed themselves. I sat in the pew, stoically, really unable to react or respond. There was so much hatred in our world represented in the names that just kept coming. There was so much frustration, anger, and fear expressed by those who spoke on behalf of the slaughtered dead and the living shunned.
Now, late for work but still in bed, I weep. I feel sad and powerless, and I’m embarrassed to think that my tiny vulnerability means a damn thing in the face of overwhelming persecution of a group of people who only want to live authentically, just like anyone else.
I cannot fix this injustice. But I can pray, and I can write a blog post, and I can put on a habit and a crazy face, and I can make someone laugh for minute. I can look for opportunities to be a mirror that affirms the beauty of transgender people and says to them, “You are beautiful.”
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy. Amen.