Changing Hearts and Minds – One Little Lady At A Time

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changing hearts

I hoped that ALICE would soften hearts and open minds. But in the beginning, there’s a lot of preaching to the choir and you start to wonder if the only people who will ever read your book are the ones who already agree with you.

Then yesterday, I met an old friend for a walk through the gallery downstairs. We hadn’t seen each other since she read ALICE a couple of months ago and it was one of the first things she brought up.

I’ve gotten more accepting since I read your book, she said, and these friends of mine, posting things on Facebook about transgender people in bathrooms, I want to ask them “what if that was your child?”

She apologized for not having said this outright to her friends, but we both know it’s not a battle to be won by trying to shout over one another on Facebook.

It is won person by person; my retired lady friend reading a book she’d never have picked up if she didn’t know the author, then passing it on to her sister who never met a transgender person but would come to know a few through ALICE, and the sister loans it to another woman who sometimes clicks like on a post about protecting women in bathrooms because who wouldn’t want to protect women? but maybe she reads the book and realizes that protecting women means protecting trans women too … 

Yes, we need the fierce advocates standing on the capitol steps, but we also need the gentle nudging around the edges, expanding the circle of acceptance and understanding, changing hearts and minds – one at a time.

Walking Wounded

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Walking Wounded
Sorella di Ira
I don’t tell people right away that I am the mother of a dead child. It changes how they behave towards me. I know that the sheer existence of bereaved parents makes people uncomfortable, that we are a reminder of every parent's worst nightmare, proof that the unimaginable is possible.

And yet, seven years after Ashlie's death  I chose to mark myself externally as I am within — the walking wounded.

I will never GET OVER this loss. I will never NOT grieve or feel the rage of Mouse's Sorella di Ira.

And so, I wear her now as a badge of honor, a survivor's scar and a warning.

 

 

 

 

Okay is the New Great; What to Say to Grieving People

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Sorella di Ira How Are You? – the king of all dreaded questions for greiving people. .

You ask how I am and I say Okay and you furrow your brow and ask, What's wrong? And I know you don't really want to know that I have struggled for six years to get to this honest Okay and for me,  Okay is fucking fantastic.

One of my co-workers lost her husband this week after 38 years together. I cannot begin to fathom the monumental loss she's experiencing right now. The condolence cards make the rounds, finally landing on my desk this morning. Both cards are chock full of stock sympathies because nobody knows what to say to grieving people.

Even other bereaved people.

Some of the well-wishers have mentioned her husband by name. That's always nice. There's a lot of sorry for your loss and in my prayers. One truly thoughtful bit comes from an unexpected source, reminding me that we only ever see the surface of nearly everyone we meet.

I stare at one of the few blank spaces for a long while before I write the following:

It's okay to not be okay for as long as you need to.

What I want to write is that I know it feels like you can't survive this separation. You can. You are going to carry the grief with you wherever you go for the rest of your life, but it will feel lighter as you get stronger. After a profound loss, we don't have to strive for Great.

Some of us are just working to be Okay. 

Please Accept My Eternal Damnation

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Please Accept My Eternal DamnationAn Open Letter to an Evangelical Christian Friend,

Thank you for sharing your life with me. I enjoy the time we spend together and value your friendship. I sense your disappointment each time that I decline an invitation to visit your church. I have tried to explain briefly that my relationship to religious things in complicated. I am open to a deeper conversation about these things, but it has not transpired.

Thus far you have merely insisted that your church is not like those churches.

It is a lovely thing that you have found a church where you feel welcomed and supported. I am truly happy that you have you have a faith which comforts you and I understand the instinct to want to share your joy. I remember it, even. But from time to time, I am concerned that our relationship is predicated on you trying to save my soul.

Which is not going to happen.

It seems like you think that if I just heard the Good News, I’d be in.

I won’t.

I believe in neither Hell nor Heaven. I accept the possibility that they may exist despite my disbelief. But I am done living my life in fear of the one and pursuit of the other.

I can still recite the names of all the books of the bible and there are hymns that will always have the power to make me weep. I appreciate prayer in its many forms, and am fascinated by theology and religious expression. Losing my faith was one of the greatest losses I have ever experienced.  I can no longer believe in some great plan, or a benevolent benefactor in the sky, and if my eternal damnation is a result of that loss, so be it.

I describe myself as an engaged agnostic because it’s easier to explain than a mystical atheist.We could talk about that more, if you'd like, but just to be clear, I have no interest in trying to convert you to my view. I think faith is a lovely thing for those who can afford it. I no longer can.

And so, my friend, I need you to accept my eternal damnation and decide whether or not you’re interested in being my friend in the here and now with no agenda – no expectation.

I really hope you are.

[cross-posted at DailyKos.com]

Bathroom Bills and Protecting Our Transgender Children From YOU

An Open Letter to all citizens, lawmakers and organizations working overtime to expand the discrimination against transgender children with creepy, voyeuristic bathroom bills :

Bathroom BillI get it. You're trying to protect your children from a perceived threat. Some of you are even willing to file false reports of transgender kids doing the things you imagine they'd want to do so you can get the ball rolling. I've lied to protect my child. I understand the urge. But the reality is that your children aren't the ones in danger.

Our transgender children are routinely harassed, humiliated and violently violated by sweet little darlings like yours. Our transgender children are singled out, attacked and shunned by those good little boys and girls you're raising to be ignorant, hateful and terrified of anything they don't understand.

Your misplaced indignation and transphobic rhetoric is a real and present danger to our transgender children and your obsession with peeking over stalls honestly freaks us out to the point that we wish we could keep YOU out of the restrooms our children use. Quite honestly, you are the reason non-discrimination laws exist in the first place.

Our transgender children deserve the right to use the restroom in which they feel safest, because they are subjected on a daily basis to small-minded, cold-hearted, bigoted little bastards like the ones you're raising to be just like you.

sincerely,

one pissed off trans-parent

 

Note: I originally posted this Open Letter regarding the so-called bathroom bills in November of 2013 when transphobic groups were working overtime to repeal California's law protecting transgender kids in school bathrooms. Luckily, the trans youth of California and their allies prevailed. But this morning I noticed that similar fights are taking place across the country and I thought perhaps it was time to reiterate my point.