This is me. This is me as a transgender woman, three months into hormone replacement therapy. This is also me standing at the door to my church in Willimantic, CT. This is me as a Christian. This is me as I am. This is me being honest, sincere, and humble. I am not hiding anything. I am not trying to pull a trick. I am not trying to deceive anyone.
When I talk about my beliefs or faith or philosophy, I tell people right off the bat that I don’t claim to know everything or to have all the answers. What I do claim is that everyone has a right to ask questions, a right to learn, a right to find their own path, and a right to live full meaningful lives. I don’t go out in the world trying to convert the masses to my way of thinking and believing. I don’t cram my politics or ideology down people’s throats. All I do is offer people their spaces to find themselves, declare themselves, and be themselves. I invite people to share their experiences. I invite people to have experiences.
I tell people that have felt doors slam in their faces that I believe those doors can open. I tell people who feel left out or shrugged aside that there are places that still welcome and include. I tell people who feel hurt that there are places in this world that provide healing. I tell people whop are afraid that there are people and places and organizations waiting to build you up and help you claim your courage. I tell people who feel they have no voice or fear that their voice can’t be heard that someone is always listening and there are places where you are free to speak your mind and pour out what is in your heart.
I try to encourage the LGBT community to have faith in themselves and in each other– but more importantly maybe, I try and encourage faith in a world where the LGBT community and beyond can find a middle ground, a place where respect and harmony and mutual compassion can thrive and not just exist with indifferent nods and tacit shrugs. I do believe that the culture of fear that surrounds the LGBT community can be transformed into a culture of courage and compassion. I do believe equality can be achieved and I do believe that having some kind of faith in a higher power and faith in each other will make the difference. If we all have that understanding that we are all a shared humanity endowed wth incredible blessings and gifts, imagine the wonderful things we can accomplish together!
While we struggle in a world that seems eager to find excuses and reasons for why we should be divided or separated or segregated, it is imperative to put in even more investment and energy in finding reasons to do away with those lines of separation and segregation. When so many profit from instilling fear and paranoia, it is all the more important and vital that we look at what more can be gained from courage, communication, and community.