Holly was there for me, opening gates for me, listening from when I met her in 1993. I have a collection of hundreds of letters I sent to her, overwhelming her, but also knowing she was safe with my heart.
Holly was so important to so many as she brought her own tender, magical Oberlin kind of presence to us, creating spaces from vision quests to sacred ceremonies where the transcendental came to the surface. Even that tough old bird TBB felt the power of Holly’s hippy dippy transcendentalism.
Holly, her son Evan, and all the rest who loved her are in my mind and my heart tonight.
If there was anyone who was born to be a free floating angel. though, soaring on gossamer wings, it was Holly, May her spirit be flying free, liberated from the chains that come with a fleshly life.
In 1994, I knew what I needed to hear to be affirmed in the world, and I knew that Holly was the one who would be credible saying it. That’s why I wrote this stump speech for her, which she delivered at IFGE Atlanta Action 1995.
I still need to hear her voice and regret missing it for so many years. So what I can do quickly is share this text.
Blessings to you Holly, like the blessings your free spirit gave to so many here.
I am here today to give each one of you a gift. It is a special gift, one that is incalculably valuable, but one that you cannot see.
Before I give you this gift, let me tell you a story. It’s a story we all know, a story that is now part of the shared American experience.
Every year as I grew up, they played The Wizard of Oz on television. It’s a cultural phenomenon. We had a black and white TV when I was growing up, and I remember how surprised I was to find that the land of Oz was in color! I finally got to see those sequined red pumps!
Somehow I knew that if I could just get a great pair of red pumps and a fiesty little dog, my life would be great, but it hasn’t been quite that simple.
The Wizard of Oz is a charming story, one that I want to share with my son as he grows. It’s the story of four lovable characters who each think they need to find something to make their life whole. The Scarecrow needs brains, The Lion needs courage, the Tin Man needs a heart, and Dorothy needs a place that feels safe, needs a home.
We all remember Dorothy’s song:
Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I heard of, once, in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue.
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.
I love the image of the rainbow in that classic Harold Arlen song. The rainbow is an image of the beauty inherent in diversity, of pure white light showing all of the range of wonderful color that makes it up. A full spectrum of beauty, like the spectrum of genders, colors and races that make up humanity.
Millions of tiny water droplets, each shining in the light of the universe, make up the whole we see as a rainbow. It is an wonderful sight, reminding us how many small parts can make up a beautiful whole.
Now that I am older, I know that The Wizard of Oz is the story of four characters on a mythic quest. They follow the role of the hero as described by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, taking a journey and returning reborn, irrevocably changed. The changed hero is both who she always was and someone completely new. All the characters find that the quest changes something inside of them forever.
I know that many of you here today understand the meaning of a quest. You, too, are searching for something, something that will bring you inner peace and happiness.
The Wizard appears to give each character what they need: brains, courage, a heart, home. But we find out that the Wizard knows that they have had these qualities all along, and all he does is give them talismans that let them blossom, symbols that unlock their own power.
The Wizard gives a gift to them, but it is the gift of a teacher, of one who empowers other to search within themselves. When they believe and they search, they discover the power and magic that they have always held inside.
I am going to give that kind of gift to you today. It is a gift that you already have, a gift that you already hold inside.
If this was The Wizard of Oz, this is where the lights, sound and fury would come, but for now, as they said, “Pay no attention to the person behind the curtain!“
I, with the all of the power of the universe, through the magic of the goddess, and in the full witness of the circle of humans, hereby grant you full and complete status as a transgendered person from this day forward.
You have the right to define your own gender role, to choose from the wide range of gender expression, in appearance, in language and in action.
You have the power to be who you are and express yourself in the way you want, using the full spectrum of choices that exist, not just selections from one culturally defined gender role.
From today on, you have full status as a transgendered person, able to select the best from the abundant palette of human appearance and behavior.
You are constrained only by your own spirit and mind, by your understanding of your responsibility as a member of the human race.
Let it be known that you are a fully fledged transgendered person, with all rights, privileges, challenges and joys that come with being transgendered.
I congratulate you on this official declaration of your status. As a transgendered person, you are able to shape and mold your own life as an artist, creating a life that you delight in and are proud of. You can create new forms and expression, and be a beacon in the world, shining your special colors for all to see.
As a transgendered person, you may be a leader in bringing a new consciousness of acceptance and diversity to the world, making the world a better place to live. You can even define the way that you want to make the world better, spanning a range that goes all the way from shouting to the crowds (though using TV might be more effective today) to raising enlightened children who will pass the message of love and acceptance on.
From today on, you are officially a transgendered person. You are able to find great beauty and peace. You can have great joy from seeing things from a perspective of change, from not being locked down. You are able to see in a way that those who only stay locked in one place, in one gender role, never will.
You will be challenged, for there is no way to satisfy all other people. Some will not understand, may mock or show fear through their anger. This happens to all people. Your life will change, and you will have to suffer some losses so that you can find the new successes. But this too is shared by all.
But you forever will have all of the most important things: the lessons you have learned from living life. And these lessons will be colored not from just one viewpoint, but from a range of ways of seeing, so that you will be able to understand even more deeply than most what makes being a human so special and wonderful.
You may choose to serve as a translator or mediator, helping people who are stuck understand other perspectives. Or you may just help others as they go through their journey.
You are whole and complete. You have the whole circle inside of you, yin and yang, black and white and all shades between. You hold the rainbow in your heart.
Congratulations! You are Transgendered!
This is my gift. For many of you, it is nothing new, just a statement of something that you know well and understand.
For others, you may be uncomfortable with this gift of transgender. This is not a gift you want to receive. Right now it looks more like a sofa size painting with just way too many colors on one canvas that Aunt Mabel might have bought at the Starving Artists show at the Holiday Inn. The gift of transgender may seem big and weird, and just like the painting, for which there is no room in the living room, there seems to be no room for being transgendered in your life. It’s a monstrosity.
I mean, after all, if people see that thing, what will they think of you?
We all understand this fear. Each and every one of this has tried to decline the gift of transgender that was given to us by our creator. We have run from it, hidden it, tried to limit it, denied it. We have worked very hard at fighting it.
Some have even tried to deny our essential transgendered selves while changing our physical sex. Changing sex may be the best choice for you, putting your body more in harmony with your internal gender. But even if you choose this change, you will always be transgendered, understanding the world from more than one viewpoint. You will never be simply a woman or a man, but one who has the transcendant joy of seeing the range of human experience. This makes you powerful, and while that can be frightening to some others, it will attract people who are ready to share on your level.
In many cultures, the God-given gift of transgender has been a highly valued one. Transgendered people have existed in all cultures and at all times, and their role has often been seen as one who represented the circle of humanity in one. This is often seen as a direct link to the divine.
The real gift is in accepting and working with our transgendered identity, not in running from it. We need to accept to move on, to find our bliss.
Surrender Dorothy! Surrender and accept this gift, this gift that you can give yourself. By accepting your status as transgendered, you can find the kind of freedom and joy that others have found.
We have taken that painting from Aunt Mabel. And lo and behold, we have found that it is actually quite beautiful, full of rich texture and vibrant depth. And when we are brave enough to show it to others, they also find it exquisite and marvel at our taste and our sophistication.
Some wicked witches will call it ugly, that’s true. They are not yet ready to see the beauty. Often though, a bucket of clean water, which symbolizes our own life force, can make them melt away.
What is truly amazing is how letting our true transgendered nature shine seems to bring new people into our lives, people we share powerful connections with, and who bring their own beauty and light into our lives.
My transgender has been like that. When I have shown it, it has brought beauty and peace into my life. Like any other person on earth, I have had to keep things in balance, finding a way to meet both my needs and the needs of the people that I love, but it has been more than worth it.
Congratulations! You are officially a transgendered person! As America sang, “Oz never did give nothin’ to the tin man that he didn’t, didn’t already have.” Take this gift like the tin heart, not as anything new, but as permission to trust your own heart, which you have always had, but which you may not have trusted.
You have the right to choose, the right to create yourself from all the best that humanity has to offer. You can be as beautiful, as strong, as bright, as sensitive, as spiritual, as whole as you choose to be, for you are transgendered!
You have the brains, you have the courage, you have the heart, and you also have the rainbow of humanity in your heart. You have the right and the spirit to shine in beauty and love.
You are whole and complete. You have the whole circle inside of you, yin and yang, black and white and all shades between. You hold the rainbow in your heart, and, when you let it, it shines beautifully from you.
Each of us makes up a little part of the rainbow of humanity, one brightly shining spot. By having each point of the rainbow shine, each of us shine, we create the beauty of the rainbow here on earth.
And if you shine, you can make a change in the world, helping to let others find their way to shine, helping to put the world in balance. Remember that it is millions of tiny water droplets shining in the light that combine to make a rainbow. We can all shine, and together we will make a beautiful spectrum of light.
If we all make just a little change in the world, maybe we won’t need a special pair of magic red pumps to find our spiritual home. We can build some place special right here on earth, where happy little blue birds, and all of the rest of us, can fly, to a magic place. A magic place that’s not just somewhere over the rainbow, but that is here today, shining brightly in the spirits of all of you.
You are transgendered. When someone asks you if you are a good witch or a bad witch, say proudly that you are a very good witch. Go forth and shine your rainbow light in the world! Bless the world with your presence as you have been blessed with your transgender!
Together, we make up the rainbow, bright and colorful. You are a beautiful sight, and I am proud to be one of you. Together, we will change the world!
and for the less sweet. . .