Not Your Binary

IMG_6065.JPG

Trans and non-gender conforming folks, who are my own flesh and blood family, can teach the world about so much. To live one's own truth in the world is dangerous business, and to do so requires courage, dignity, grace, and a commitment to truth. If you think you get it, as an ally, please pause for a moment and think about what the authenticity of trans*/gnc experience can show you...

 Gender - Gender, like most things, exists in a broad spectrum of actuality...one that doesn't conform to our notions of black/white, male/female, good/bad. Our binary models and dualistic thinking. Why we continue to parse humanity's truth out into an acceptable "two-ness" is confounding when reality shows that there have never been only two genders, any more than there have been two colors, two kinds of weather, or two kinds of people that are only good or only bad. Nothing natural exists in two-ness. Any story, religious or otherwise, that says there are or were is lying. 

In a variety of cultures, gender constructs have proven false, and have no real correspondence to biology, just like whether or not the sun shines determines whether or not it is hot or cold. And it is only in relatively recent human culture that it has been perceived otherwise. So listen to the experiences of trans folks to reclaim something beautiful that you have all forgotten. That human life has infinite beautiful variety, just like the nature it inhabits. And this includes gender. 

Space - Every human soul deserves the space to express themselves and their truths without fear. Free from assault, judgment, obstacles, or accusations of ill intent. Our culture spends an inordinate amount of energy reserving space for specific experiences as legitimate. And casting out what doesn't fit. But human experience IS variety. The world has left no space for non-conforming expressions of gender, purpose, identity. Because we separate things into false poles. Hard lines that divide rather than open spaces which include. We've left no room. MAKE room! Trans and gnc folks can teach the world about the real. Because our experience exists in the world, it can't be claimed to be "not real." And everyone deserves the freedom to be their most authentic selves without impairment. Learn to create space. Especially if you have already claimed more than is yours by excluding someone else. You know...like dominant cultures do. Since forever.

Identity - Most people get to walk through the world without having to justify that they are who they say they are. Why should trans*/gnc folk not be afforded the same right? The same blessed right to live in truth and embodied self-expression, free from having to explain, justify, or apologize. Answer? We shouldn't! You don't get to tell anyone that they aren't who and what they say they are. Your truth and experience isn't the litmus test for the truths of others, nor should you expect the experience of others should mirror yours or else be declared dangerous. Threatening. Broken. Hatred, violence, separation...these are the true danger. They are true brokenness.

Welcome - Trans and gnc folks have cultivated  acceptance of the legitimacy of our individual experiences in the forge of misunderstanding, abuse, and yes - legislation. With all odds stacked against our experience. Yet, we persist! In extraordinary variety. And  none of our experiences are alike to those of every or necessarily any other. But yet, we welcome one another's experiences and truths without the litmus test of having to fit some pre-conceived notion of the "real." Welcoming others is a holy calling. And without thinking about it in that way, or calling it that necessarily, trans*/gnc folks tend to do it uncritically. And you can learn from that. Welcome won't break you. Isolation and judgment will.

Humanity - we are all merely human. Humanity has inherent dignity made real in every human person. No human's true dignity is subverted by our human categories, our biases, or our discomforts. But we try! Lord, how we try. No creature in God's created world does this but humans, the very creatures who have the reason and intellect enough to know better. So stop. Trans*/gnc people can teach the world about what freedom, community, and authenticity look like. Not in the ideal, but in truth. In the actual. You can't fully have your own humanity until you extend that humanity...um...to other humans. All of us. Every. Last. One.

People of faith, remember that God's thoughts are not our thoughts. Nor God's ways, our ways. Time to get right with this.

#sacredresistance

#IamGenderNonConforming


Let's Rest a Moment

IMG_6063.JPG

Let us take a rest for a brief hour from politics and issues and positions. Let us, for just a moment, lay aside our certainties and our inviolable "truths" and our opinions.

I'm tired of griping, of agonizing, of being afraid.

Let's not have fears, but fantasies together.

Let's not choose to be obstacles to one another's peace.

Let's be not afraid of every bit of bad news; let's not indulge in every injurious thing.

Let's not protect ourselves from one another, friend!

There is no peace there.

Let's sit down together and eat something good even if it's bad for us.

Let me give myself to you.

Let us be a moment of respite and peace to one another.

I'll tell you of hopes, and disappointments; of joys and regrets. Of striving and accomplishment and then you tell me of yours!

Let me give you a story.

Let me sing you a song.

Speak to me of colors and scents that remind you of younger days.

I'll listen to your truth...listen to mine also.

I want to feed you poetry.

I want to suck the marrow from your dancing bones, cry over your hurts, laugh until I ache with you, and drink deeply of the sunset together.

I want to hear about your silly mistakes, and your greatest moments, and every song that makes you weep.

Let me share my own stories, my songs and hopes and what peace I have found.

Let us not be isolated even while in the same room.

Let's, instead, speak of pains and strains and the things we both are embarrassed by.

Life need not be terrifying, but Lord it is short.

I trust in God, but that's because God points me to you.

Let's not waste that.

Death need not be the thing that calls us to one another...let life and joy also do this.

Let's not be so afraid that we turn away from each other.

Let's be filled with hope.

I'll rejoice in all that you've overcome to find peace and joy.

Do likewise with me.

Our hopes are the same, after all.

We seek love.

We long for rest.

And we've forgotten that it can only be found in each other.

When I tell you...

IMG_6062.GIF

When I tell you that I believe in God, it is not a judgment on whether or not you do. It is a confession that in the deepest part of myself, I feel vulnerability and awe at the mystery of being and have chosen to name it God and engage with God as a means not of gaining pat answers but framing questions. God is the beginning of an entirely different vocabulary for engaging the world.

When I tell you that I pray, and that I’ll pray for you, do not take it as meddlesome or superstitious. Understand that what it means is that I want to engage with what troubles you on the deepest level that I know how. In a way that reflects the pains and fears that connect us as human. It means I am giving the fullest and deepest part of myself to your concerns. I pray to be a better person than I am and to see you in your own truth as well.

When I tell you that I am a religious person, and that I go to Church, I am not confessing weakness, but my greatest strength.  Because I am a selfish human being just like any of us can be, I am letting you know that by means of faith and community, I am trying to unlearn what it means to be selfish. So that I can be a better friend, lover, son, and person. And, because in Church I get to experience ritual and rhythm and song as a means to celebrate the mystery of everything unknown and unknowable, it helps me to become humble. I hope.

When I tell you I read the Bible, I am not saying that it is to the exclusion of science books, history, economics, or other texts. What I am saying is that the stories of the Bible speak to the meaning-making part of myself, rather than the intellectual side which is daily under assault with information. And that those stories and their varied layers of meaning help me to find my place in the world and in my culture, and a means to respond with goodness. It does not mean I think many of those stories literally happened, but it means that I think they’re true. True in the sense that their value lies in what they teach us about being human and our search for meaning and our greater purpose.

When I tell you I am a Christian, I am not confessing that I am better than anyone else, but in fact that I am more needful than others. It means that I choose to follow the ethics and teachings of a lowly man who spent time with outcasts and riled up the authorities and proclaimed love, mercy, forgiveness, and justice.  Precisely because I recognize my need for these things, and because I want to be able to offer love, mercy, forgiveness, and justice to others, I follow Jesus and his Way. And often, I do it poorly.

And when I tell you all of these things, understand that it is because I think this way of life makes me a better person so I can be more present for you…not that I think they will also make you a better person than whatever you have chosen to believe already makes you. Trust your own goodness. You don’t need me to tell you how to be better.

If I prove to be hateful and mean-spirited and judgmental, then you have every right to tell me that the path I’ve chosen is just not working for me. If I try to shove my beliefs down your throat as something I think you need to believe too - or else - then you have every right to call me out on it.

Do I believe that we all need to be better people? Yes, I do! And I have chosen the path  that my own experience has proven to me works to help me become a better person. If you want to be a better person, I’m glad to encourage you, but I’m not going to choose your path for you. It’s not my place. Whatever path you choose, I will love and support you on that journey. Even if we see the world differently.

The world is made better by individuals deciding to become better people. Not better than others, but better than one’s self. We don’t all have to follow the same journey to get there, but we do need to agree on one very fundamental thing…

It won’t happen without all of us making an effort to change starting with our own selves.

The Darkest Prison

IMG_6059.JPG

The first prison that we need to be liberated from...the most painful and dark captivity...is that of our imprisonment by our own selves. Our own desires, striving for comforts, our bestial nature that demands satisfaction, recourse to our petty grievances, the prison that holds us in thrall to our own wants. The dark walls that enclose us in our own selfishness. Freedom, the kind that comes from Christ, is rooted in letting go. Of outcomes we desire, and the circumstances and people we manipulate to achieve them; of fears of scarcity and judgment; of failures and flaws that we believe define us and separate us, of our arrogant entitlements that fill us with resentment when frustrated. If you want to be free, then take a look at the prison you have created. The key is forged of forgiveness, mercy, generosity, and love. And you can never wield it. It is always held in the care of the poor and the oppressed to whom Christ has entrusted our freedom. And until you look for it there, you'll remain a captive by the walls you yourself have built.

Be Not Afraid

IMG_6057.JPG

We must resist the temptation to despondency or resignation. There can be no making peace with oppression, but we must hold to the inner peace that anchors us. We must resist anger, hatred, and resentment. We must, instead, hold one another dear, work to change our own hearts in love and service to each other. We must not be afraid! There is no human government that will serve anything but the aims of power. But God raises up the powerless to heal the world. And will cast down the mighty. Be not afraid. Clear your heads. Open your hearts. Set the plough to the fields, dear ones. We have work to do. Don't give up. No one can ever steal your dignity or your belovedness. Protect one another from the ravening lion that seeks to destroy. #SacredResistance