I have been thinking a lot about what I would say if they asked me to speak at First Event next weekend.
I know what the audience wants, a pep talk, a feel good speech about transgender and affirmation, which probably includes an attack on the enemies that scare the shit out of us, who feel like they threaten us back into the closet.
We are in a time of battle, confronted by people who believe that “this is their country” and they get to police it, to purge it, to cleanse it so their country can be great again, in the way they believe they remember greatness.
Nobody is saying “this is our country,” making it clear that we have complex and compounding challenges to face together, issues that can only be faced if we do the hard work of engaging change. Engaging change is ALWAYS engaging loss, always demands the willingness to surrender comfort & ease to become better, stronger, more connected and more present.
After 9/11, my take was “God Bless The World.” Al Queda brought the war to the USA and we need to be open to the pain and the rage that so much of the rest of the world carries.
The Republican response, though, the only response politicians could sell was “God Bless America.” There was evil and we had to destroy it. There was a right and wrong, so people that raised our fears must be wrong, even if that involved stereotyping.
This notion of good and evil is everywhere. I looked at a social action event today and the organizer’s Facebook image was “I Fight Evil” She is a professional activist and that’s her pitch, not the “I fight for good” but instead I fight evil. How do you create true coalition when your goal is to fight evil, including the evil you see everywhere?
At the Women’s March, Janet Mock suggested that fighting for others, even others who make choices we find suspect, choices that we would never make for ourselves, demands that we search ourselves and do the hard work.
What is that hard work, though? I suggest it is the challenge of coming from love.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
As a transperson, I know something crucial, something precious.
I know what it is to lose part of your heart, part of who you are, because people see it as evil. I have experienced internalized shame, horrible self loathing and the desire to kill of part of who I am because I was told that it was other, was sick, was queer.
We learned to encase our hearts in lead because we feared the radiation from them was toxic.
The problem is that radiation was our love. It was the Eros, the love that our creator placed in our heart.
Our love, though, crossed boundaries and revealed connections. It shone of continuous common humanity.
Our love, in the end, is only toxic to separation, to darkness, to hate.
And that’s why we were shamed into hiding it, because it challenged the walls of separation that the ego finds comforting. It lets people maintain the fiction of good vs evil, of us vs them, of pure vs connected.
We are defined by the wars we hold as ours. So many of those wars have been coded as stereotypes, telling us who is the problem, who is evil, who we must hate. Difference is seen as dangerous, rather than diversity being seen as essential to a healthy human community.
So much hate.
What do we do when confronted by hate? Do we get angry, set up battle lines, identify the enemy?
If we do that, well, we just play their game. They want a war because their separation beliefs are fed by war.
I know why I freak people out as a transperson. I cross boundaries, speak for love, stand for connection.
This is the gift that transpeople have always brought to society. We speak not for battle but for transcendence.
In a time where the mob wants battle, we can be dismissed as soft, weak, unpatriotic, destructive, traitors. (Old joke: “In the war between the sexes, men see crossdressers as traitors and women see them as saboteurs. That means both sides want to kill them.”)
We have hearts broken open by our creation, neither this or that, but both or neither.
That is our calling and our gift, as I have been saying for the past decades.
I can tell you this, but I know that you can only see the world in the context of the war you are committed to fight right now, whatever that is. It is the war that forms your life-myth, and I bet, I just bet, the core of it is me versus them. You have identified an enemy, not a calling, a separation not a connection, an anger not a love.
And that is why I can’t break through to you. It’s why my words can’t make it into your tender, broken heart, the soul you have learned to defend with every bit of armour that you can find, just because you know you need that defence to walk in a world where people committed to separation are ready to attack you at any time.
Love can build a bridge. But only if we are ready to fight for crossing & connection rather than targeting evil.