Friday, November 20, 2015

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015

I have a very dear friend who is trans (transgender, though she actually doesn’t like that umbrella term and prefers the more specific “transsexual” or just “trans”, but I’m saying “transgender” here because it is a bigger umbrella and what I’m about to talk about applies to everyone under that umbrella). Today, November 20th, is the national Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). It’s a day to pause and remember the staggering, truly shocking number of transgender people who were violently murdered (and lost to suicide) this year, and to realize that the total number is made up of (I hate to quote Bush, Sr. at a moment like this—or ever! But it’s a poetic term here) “a thousand points of light”, so to speak: in other words, the huge, scary yet impersonal aggregate statistic is made up of very, very personal, individual lives. A rabbi I knew once said that every life is a whole world.

I may have let today go by without a mention, were it not for the fact that my aforementioned dear friend got harassed last night upon attempting to check in to a hotel when traveling, right here in the “free” United States of America. Right in her own country, just for daring to be herself. Try to imagine that you couldn’t walk down the street, check into a hotel, apply for a job, access a public bathroom, try something on in a dressing room in a department store, or have a meal out without the very real possibility, all the time, at any moment, wherever you are, of someone or a group coming up to you and harassing you, threatening you, discriminating against you, or worse. Try to imagine every day of your life being like that, 24/7. Just for a moment today, try to imagine that.

The fact that my friend got harassed last night made me realize I can’t let this day go by without stopping to acknowledge the importance of it. It can’t be just trans people who talk about this. It has to be all of us, for things to ever change. Most people who are not trans have no idea of what the statistics are--of how dangerous just going about your daily life while trans is. I’m asking those of you reading this to take a moment today just to take in how challenging it is for them, when all they are trying to do is be themselves. When someone’s internal wiring doesn’t conform to their external body specs, they should be free and indeed encouraged to express themselves, to live their lives, in a way that makes them feel comfortable, like their true selves, free and whole. It doesn’t hurt a flea for people to be free to live as their true selves. They are not threatening anyone by doing so, therefore they should not be threatened.

Gender is a spectrum and some people don’t fit into what the world expects of them based on their outer body. So just let them be different, it’s okay! We are all different and we all color outside of the lines in some way(s) in our lives. We should all be accepted for who we are, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, and being transgender doesn’t. The only thing I won’t tolerate is intolerance, especially when it results in violence against innocent people just trying to live their lives. This is very personal for me due to my friend. My message today is live and let live. This is supposed to be the Land of the Free. Teach tolerance to your children and your friends, wherever you go, whatever lives you touch, too. Don’t be silent.