Monday, November 20, 2006

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Monday, November 20, is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a time to remember the lives lost to ignorance and hatred, the lives of transgendered people who have been murdered simply because they were brave enough to speak truth to the world.

To be clear and honest about this: I am not transgendered, so understand that I am speaking as an ally, a friend, not an expert or from my own transgendered experience. I do not speak for trans people, of course—and to my trans friends, I apologize in advance for over-simplifying, for leaving out some of the complexities, for not speaking to all the difficulties and complications. I speak, again, as an ally, from my friendships and my love for my transgendered friends of all genders. You know who you are—thank you for your presence in my life. You have been my partners in crime, my inspirations, my role models, my refuge from time to time, and most of all, my beloved friends.

I have many transgendered friends—they are transwomen, FTM, genderqueer, transmen, androgynous, pre-op, MTF, transitioning, post-op, transitioned, never planning to transition. Without exception, they are some of the strongest, wisest, most grounded, and self-aware people I know. They know who they are; they have fought and struggled and worked hard to be who they are—and they are beautiful, every one of them. All the extraneous “stuff” is being burned away, and the refined gold is left--because of course, it's a continuing process. They know who they are, they have worked hard to be the person God wants them to be, and they aren’t going to let anyone take it away from them. They’re not perfect, of course—they’d be the first to tell you that—but as John Wesley would say, they are going on to perfection, with God’s help.

But my particular friends are, in many ways, the blessed ones, the ones who have been able to work through it all to a place of relative safety—relative only, of course, since there is never absolute safety for those who are different form society’s strict categories. They were able, with a struggle, but able nonetheless, to get the education, the therapy, the surgery, the employment, the treatment, the relationship, the sacred space of church or temple or synagogue that allowed them to speak truth. Many others aren’t so blessed.

Humans tend to dislike what they do not understand—which may have had its uses back in the stone age, but it is a trait that has out-lived its usefulness. The vast majority of people expect another person to be identifiable as a man or a woman, and when another person is not readily identifiable as one or the other, frustration and anger often set in. If the other person seems to be deliberately trying to “fool” them, their anger increases. Thus the butch lesbian and the drag queen are attacked; cross-dressers are mocked by emergency medical personnel and young transgendered women (transwomen) are placed in the men’s section of jails, where they are beaten and raped.

You have doubtless heard of some of the more famous cases of transphobia resulting in murder—Brandon Teena, Gwen Araujo, and others. But for every one of the famous ones, for every one who is killed, there are countless others who are harassed on a daily basis; who cannot use a public washroom for fear of being violently ejected and even arrested if they use the “wrong” one; who are kicked out of school, jobs, church and home; who are referred to as “it” by medical personnel, prison officials and teachers; refused entry into emergency shelters because they do not “fit” into either the men’s shelter or the women’s shelter; and told they are “sick” by the world in general.

In spite of it all, they continue, as a group, to march forward, insisting on their humanity, on the presence of God within themselves and their relationships. In many of our theologies, we make the claim that God is beyond gender, both and neither male or female. If we understand our God to be both and neither, why then can we not accept fellow human beings who are also both and neither? Take some time this week to think about those you know or may have heard of, who are transgendered, and pray, as I will be praying, that you may have the courage they have shown, to live their own truthful, beautiful lives.


Muphinsmom said...

I don't know what to say, other than thank you. My heart breaks and love overwhelms.

Mekah Gordon, Ph.D., L. E. said...

Judging Others

It's very easy to Judge others, without judging yourself.
Doing so, is an indication of poor self-esteem, & simply, an enormous waste of time.
As Human Beings, we are very susceptible creatures.
However,focusing primarily on Judging, & Loving Oneself, does take a lifetime.
The benefits, of living one's own precious life, in harmony with self, eventually leads you on a path towards sensitivity, understanding, & a true respect of others.

~Mekah Gordon, Ph.D., L. E.

No One on this planet, should ever have, or be granted the power, right, nor stand in judgment, of anyone's Basic Human Civil Rights, by enforcing through Constitutional
Decree, or otherwise, whom one should love, and marry, NO ONE!

~Mekah Gordon, Ph.D., L. E.

hipastorzwife2B said...


hipchickmamma said...

amen. thank you for writing so beautifully about a very important issue.

my mtf friend is usually in a "safe" environment and i'm so used to her, i forget that she is anything but safe outside of our community.

thank you for reminding me of her reality. i will say a special prayer today.

thank you.

SingingOwl said...

That was a profound post. Thank you.

the reverend mommy said...

Thanks indeed.

Sally said...

Thank you for this deep and moving post- it is time to see past the labels we give one another to indicate difference to see our common humanity and spirituality- maybe then we can learn to live together in love and peace.
May God bless you for your sensitive and brave words

LutheranChik said...

Great post. When will people rise above the atavistic urge to attack anyone who is "different"?

Sue said...

Thank you so much for this insightful and beautiful post.


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