Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Listening to the Enemy

Withdrawn - at least, temporarily.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things to Be Grateful For...

180 posts - today.
This quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
"Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weakness of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition."

Hair getting longer.

Wow! Kristin. My best friend. My wisest councilor. My inspired co-parent. My staunchest support. Chocolate cream pie and pumpkin pie - made from scratch.

Trinidad. Creativity unleashed. Sensitivity. Passion. Fascination with nature.

Sam. Unbridled joy. Patience. Laughter. Brilliance. And an unwavering dedication to Star Wars.

You know what?

Life is good. And it's beautiful. And today, I'm happy - and grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Letter to the LGBT Community Regarding the Aftermath of Prop 8

I didn't intend to post now, but some things just seem too important to let pass. This is one.

There is no doubt that Prop 8 caused a lot of pain to our community. I think of my dear friend, who has dedicated her life to supporting families, who has made such a profound difference that just the people I know of who have been blessed by her work hail from all over this country, and Canada, Ireland, South Africa, and Australia. She married her wife twelve years ago, and remarried legally on her twelfth anniversary. Her work has saved the marriages of straight folks, yet straight folks took her marriage away from her.

There is nothing about her loss that is greater or lesser than anyone else's in our community; I point it out only to illustrate the monumental injustice of Prop 8.

Yet violence does nothing to further our interests. In fact, it is a failure, a forfeiture of dignity, a disgrace of self. We will not win this way.

This issue is about love, and we will win with love, not with violence; with compassion, not with hate.

I have heard of fingers pointing to the Mormon Church, or to the black community. And I say to you, no organization walked into a voting booth and voted against us. Only individuals did that; and each one of them pulled the lever that said Yes, We Will Take Away Your Marriage for their own individual reasons.

We will not change that vote by protesting organizations or communities. We will change that vote by being visible with our neighbors, our co-workers, our children's friends, the people we meet on the street – tearing down walls of ignorance and fear one person at a time. Yes, take to the streets – as I did, with my boys, on Saturday's "Join the Impact" demonstrations – but with nonviolence.

Ironically, our greatest weapon is provided by the words of the prophet our most ardent opponents idolize: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."

I ask us all, do not underestimate the power of this precept. It has been proven. Yes, we are angry; but if we channel that anger into violence, we surrender our power. We can do better than that. As Gandhi said, "There is no power on earth greater than the indomitable will." That indomitable will is not found in violence. It is found in Love, and Compassion. Channel that anger into your indomitable will. Be that Love, and we will win.

I call on you, my LGBT community: Now is the time to listen. Now is the time to be visible. Hold hands in public. Call your spouse "husband," or "wife." Let your neighbor, your doctor, your grocer, your co-worker, know who you are. I know, it can be scary – believe me, I know how frightening visibility can be. As a transwoman, I'm visible every step I take. I know that it leaves us vulnerable to the violence of those who hate us. Even so, it gets easier with time, with visibility; courage feeds on courage. Hold your love high, and know its truth. It's a lot harder to vote against a stranger than a friend, or even an acquaintance.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Am I not destroying my enemies, when I make friends of them?" You do not make friends with invisibility, nor do you make friends with violence.

Let us destroy our enemies, in the way Abe suggests – one at a time, making friends.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm Not Really Breaking Sabbatical, but...

it's true that I didn't provide closure on this blog for the election, and I feel compelled to do so before really taking a break.

I am absolutely thrilled with the victories of President-elect Obama and our Mayor, Kitty Piercy. These are the two most important candidate races to me.

Everyone who cast a vote for Mr. Obama made a political act of great significance, and I'm proud to say I was one of them. We stood up and made plain that we are ready to stake the fortune of our nation on the principle that a man's character is more important than his skin color. This is not the real culmination of Mr. King's dream, but it is the symbolic culmination of that dream. And I am so proud of our nation for making this real.

Besides, I truly believe that Barack Obama is the right man for this job in this time.

Ms. Piercy has been an outstanding mayor for the last four years, cleaning up the mess that her opponent, Mr. Torrey, left behind, while simultaneously bringing national attention to our small city for our innovative environmentalism and warm climate for sustainable business. In addition, she is truly a mayor for all - the minorities and the downtrodden, as well as the business leaders. It is astounding to me that so many of our citizens would cast their votes for a man who represents so few of our interests, while excluding so many. But maybe I just take it personally, since I'm in one of the groups he would exclude.

And then there's Prop 8.

I have cried so many tears since it passed. My own heart breaking, for all those others whose hearts are breaking. My anger and rage at the injustice of it. My sadness at the pain.

So I will close with this piece from Joe Solomonese, of the Human Rights Campaign:

You can’t take this away from me: Proposition 8 broke our hearts, but it did not end our fight.

Like many in our movement, I found myself in Southern California last weekend. There, I had the opportunity to speak with a man who said that Proposition 8 completely changed the way he saw his own neighborhood. Every “Yes on 8” sign was a slap. For this man, for me, for the 18,000 couples who married in California, to LGBT people and the people who love us, its passage was worse than a slap in the face. It was nothing short of heartbreaking.

But it is not the end. Fifty-two percent of the voters of California voted to deny us our equality on Tuesday, but they did not vote our families or the power of our love out of existence; they did not vote us away.

As free and equal human beings, we were born with the right to equal families. The courts did not give us this right—they simply recognized it. And although California has ceased to grant us marriage licenses, our rights are not subject to anyone’s approval. We will keep fighting for them. They are as real and as enduring as the love that moves us to form families in the first place. There are many roads to marriage equality, and no single roadblock will prevent us from ultimately getting there.

And yet there is no denying, as we pick ourselves up after losing this most recent, hard-fought battle, that we’ve been injured, many of us by neighbors who claim to respect us. We see them in the supermarkets, on the sidewalk, and think “how could you?”

By the same token, we know that we are moving in the right direction. In 2000, California voters passed Proposition 22 by a margin of 61.4% to 38.6%. On Tuesday, fully 48% of Californians rejected Proposition 8. It wasn’t enough, but it was a massive shift. Nationally, although two other anti-marriage ballot measures won, Connecticut defeated an effort to hold a constitutional convention ending marriage, New York’s state legislature gained the seats necessary to consider a marriage law, and FMA architect Marilyn Musgrave lost her seat in Congress. We also elected a president who supports protecting the entire community from discrimination and who opposes discriminatory amendments.

Yet on Proposition 8 we lost at the ballot box, and I think that says something about this middle place where we find ourselves at this moment. In 2003, twelve states still had sodomy laws on the books, and only one state had civil unions. Four years ago, marriage was used to rile up a right-wing base, and we were branded as a bigger threat than terrorism. In 2008, most people know that we are not a threat. Proposition 8 did not result from a popular groundswell of opposition to our rights, but was the work of a small core of people who fought to get it on the ballot. The anti-LGBT message didn’t rally people to the polls, but unfortunately when people got to the polls, too many of them had no problem with hurting us. Faced with an economy in turmoil and two wars, most Californians didn’t choose the culture war. But faced with the question—brought to them by a small cadre of anti-LGBT hardliners – of whether our families should be treated differently from theirs, too many said yes.

But even before we do the hard work of deconstructing this campaign and readying for the future, it’s clear to me that our continuing mandate is to show our neighbors who we are.
Justice Lewis Powell was the swing vote in Bowers, the case that upheld Georgia’s sodomy law and that was reversed by Lawrence v. Texas five years ago. When Bowers was pending, Powell told one of his clerks “I don’t believe I’ve ever met a homosexual.” Ironically, that clerk was gay, and had never come out to the Justice. A decade later, Powell admitted his vote to uphold Georgia’s sodomy law was a mistake.

Everything we’ve learned points to one simple fact: people who know us are more likely to support our equality.

In recent years, I’ve been delivering this positive message: tell your story. Share who you are. And in fact, as our families become more familiar, support for us increases. But make no mistake: I do not think we have to audition for equality. Rather, I believe that each and every one of us who has been hurt by this hateful ballot measure, and each and every one of us who is still fighting to be equal, has to confront the neighbors who hurt us. We have to say to the man with the Yes on 8 sign—you disrespected my humanity, and I am not giving you a pass. I am not giving you a pass for explaining that you tolerate me, while at the same time denying that my family has a right to exist. I do not give you permission to say you have me as a “gay friend” when you cast a vote against my family, and my rights.

Wherever you are, tell a neighbor what the California Supreme Court so wisely affirmed: that you are equal, you are human, and that being denied equality harms you materially. Although I, like our whole community, am shaken by Prop 8’s passage, I am not yet ready to believe that anyone who knows us as human beings and understands what is at stake would consciously vote to harm us.

This is not over. In California, our legal rights have been lost, but our human rights endure, and we will continue to fight for them.

Peace. Be well. Be blessed. And remember, love is all around you.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I'm taking a blog sabbatical.

This is November, the month of NaNoWriMo. I'm not going to start a novel from scratch, but I do intend to spend some extra time on the one I've been working on since 2008. I'm also going to take some time to think, to spend time with my kids, to read, and consider what goals and intentions I have for my blog. I may update links, but I don't intend to write another entry until December, unless I get really struck by something that needs to be expressed.

Check back on Pearl Harbor Day (Dec. 7). Until then, be well. Be blessed. Be happy.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our