For a long time now we have grouped ourselves together by preferred traits and promoted just the issues that benefit us while avoiding personally controversial ones that pertain to other’s needs. As a transgendered Christian woman I have watched this go on for several years and I have come to see this tendency as something that is often counterproductive for us on the whole. We no longer have this luxury – that of being separate, exclusive and picking and choosing which “rights” we work for while there people dying from, or suffering with hunger, AIDS and other illnesses, or that lack basic sanitary necessities or dignity because they are differently abled. And these folks are plentiful right in our own neighborhoods!
I understand the apprehension and discomfort we feel when we must push the envelope of our personal comfort zones and stretch again resources that are already stretched. But in this day of unrest and mis-trust, of corruption at the highest levels of our society and government, of economic collapse, of hate crimes and of budget cuts that are hurting so many of us, this is what we need to do – push our limits... Again. If we won’t take notice and help each other and build each other up, regardless of how each of us perceives others, self-identifies or presents, who will? Now is the time to take the progressive lead and reshape our world together.
Rather than gravitating to our comfortable niches where hopefully we can ride out the storms without having to stretch too much farther, we need to be our own strongest allies and work together – setting aside some of or prejudices and unease with those that are different or foreign to us. It is past time to build up the whole of our community. We need to be lifting up the ones that struggle with the effects of life-long marginalization, rejection and ridicule and those that wrestle with death itself or who have no means of their own to survive.
For example, I don’t see Marriage Equality as the number one issue currently but nonetheless I am very active in that movement, and it isn’t because I seek to marry someone of the same sex. I have set aside some of my own discomfort and prejudice to work with some people whose needs and motives I sometimes can hardly fathom. To an in-process transgender woman the inequity is something that be can worked around just by changing or not changing an obsolete method of identifying gender once certain “plumbing” issues are resolved (though this is not a perfect solution, it is livable), so I view the situation from a completely different angle than most folks do. Supporting M.E. is a means of advancing the common good. My faith, and who I now am, drives me into this effort. This is where my Christian faith “does something” more than lift my spirits up for an hour on Sunday. Even mentioning it LGBT circles risks some discomfort but it does bring my faith down to street level. A little bit of personal challenge is all that it really takes to make a noticeable difference and that is all I am advocating here. Every one of us can make things a little bit better for someone else.
What is important now is working together; getting known, building networks and visibility within our community and finding ways to build bridges between different groups of people, cultures and preferences. Bringing my abilities to the table and sharing the load with people who have different needs and experiences is what I try to do and encourage others to do now that I have found the freedom to be myself.
I was pleased to have a few moments to speak with Harvey Stern of the Golden Rainbow Senior Center (Palm Springs) the other day after the LGBT Mental Health Task Force Meeting in Perris. They are reaching out beyond the traditional limits of what one would define as a “senior” center and they are accommodating many groups at their center now that others centers in the area have been forced to close. (Thanks, Harvey, for your efforts and the wonderful example you are for us all).
We – Harvey and I – agreed that we are down to the bare necessities of survival these days. He deals with this every day at the Center and I feel the pinch daily; I can barely afford the basics every month. I can’t afford a car or a place of my own to live and I struggle to find adequate and appropriate health care, even food sometimes. But I can push the limits of my abilities and means to build up and help to homogenize our community. I encourage you all to do the same.
Hugs and Blessings,
Freelance Advocate for Human / Civil-Rights and Faith without Prejudice
"Stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong." A. Lincoln