I Call BS

Every time there is a national crisis of some sort people turn out in droves loudly proclaiming their love and concern for the population effected by the tragedy. Hurricane Harvey is just the latest.  Hurricane Sandy, the Sandy Hook massacre, the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11. The list goes on and on, and in each instance people donate money, they send relief supplies, they cry what they profess to be real tears for people who are hurting and in desperate need of help.  I CALL BS

Today is the first news cycle that was not lead by videos of Hurricane Harvey.  What was the first video? The president of the united states claiming “we love the dreamers, we love everybody” all while making the decision to end protections for young people protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival – DACA – act.

Let me get this straight.  You love them but you want them to go “back” to countries they do not remember, where they have no family, they do not speak the language, and have no means to support themselves.  That doesn’t sound like any love I’ve ever experienced and it’s certainly not coming from a place of compassion or concern.  How many DACA kids do you suppose are helping rescue hurricane victims? How many DACA kids do you suppose are up to their necks in debris and devastation left from the storm, but they’re at their neighbor’s houses helping with the clean up? These kids are allowed to work and required to pay taxes, but they get nothing in return.  They don’t qualify for any social services, they don’t get “hand outs” from the American people.  They give far more to this country than what we give them in return.

Thanks for helping.  We love you, now go away.

How about that ban on transgender people serving in the military?  The administration and a lot of flag-waving Americans claim to be “friends of the gays” using the phrase “the gays” as a catch-all for the entire LGBTQ+ community, but transgender people are clearly too much of a drain on military so they must go.

What a load of crap. I won’t even attempt to lay out the real cost of being transgender on the military, or compare it to the waste, fraud, and abuse that is rampant in this administration.  Others have done that already.  It doesn’t seem to matter to those making the decisions that the cost of caring for transgender servicemembers is astonishingly miniscule in the grand scheme of budgetary expenses.  This ban is borne of pure hate.  There is no way to spin it to make it sound remotely responsible or compassionate.

My transgender wife honorably served in the United States Air Force for 20 years.  She did not have the option to live authentically at that time. It’s speculation, but I believe those 20 years would have been so much easier for her had she been allowed to serve openly.  Haven’t we learned this lesson by allowing people to serve regardless of their sexual orientation?  Here is something to consider, United States of America……….there will soon be NO eligible young people willing to serve in the military. If we don’t wake up and accept that our young people have the expectation of being accepted for who they are, our military ranks will continue to dwindle to dangerously low levels of operational readiness.  Good luck dealing with the crazy loon in North Korea!

Let’s talk about what it means when our police take the oath to “protect and serve.”  What does that look like for the citizens who rely on law enforcement?  It looks very different for me as a 50 year old white woman than it does for a 25 year old black man. White men taking oaths to protect and serve making jokes about “only killing black people” when making a traffic stop.  Jokes like that are never innocent and certainly not funny.  That statement tells a lot about the person’s true character and judgement.

Are we a country that truly believes in civil rights?  Well of course we are, right? We settled that a long time ago when we let Black people drink out of our water fountains and sit next to us on the bus.  We white people have done our part.  It’s all good.

Nope.  Not even close to being a country that actually CARES ABOUT ALL PEOPLE.  People who enjoy their civil rights are still actively trying to steal them from others.  My civil rights are far more important than your civil rights.  If you get more rights, mine will be diminished.  You will steal mine so I’ll make sure you just don’t have any in the first place.

BS BS BS!!!  Civil rights don’t run out like milk and bread the day before a snowstorm.

I could go on forever, but I have to end soon or you will stop reading.  One final thought, knowing this last paragraph is directed mostly at people outside my community of  truly compassionate friends, so share widely if you would……

Keep your teddy bears, keep your canned goods and diapers, keep your cash and blankets and clothes you’ve dug out of your closet.  Don’t fly the flag in your yard.  Don’t bother placing your hand over your heart during the National Anthem or singing the hymns in church on Sunday. Don’t bother “giving until it hurts” unless you have searched your heart and find compassion for ALL human beings, love them for who they are rather than who you want them to be, are more concerned about their well-being than what you can get from them.  Keep all your gifts given out of some false sense of patriotism and compassion because it’s been proven time and time again that none of that compassion, concern, and love for your fellow man lasts for long.  It’s temporary to make yourself feel better.  It flies out the window the next time somebody refuses to serve a gay couple because of deeply held beliefs, or an unarmed black man is shot for walking down the sidewalk at the wrong time of day, or a statue of slave owner is moved out of a place of reverence.

I hope some day I can stop calling BS.

Old Furniture

I have refinished quite a few pieces of old furniture, and an entire kitchen full of oak cabinets. Every time I go through the process of refinishing a piece of wood I am struck by the parallels that can be drawn between the lives of people and the lives of wood furniture.  Okay, so this might take some explaining, so bear with me.

Take this old bookcase for instance. It had been abandoned when we acquired it, dirty, neglected, but Carli and I saw so much potential in this piece.  Its life was not over by any means, so I set out to discover what it should be doing with its life now.

When I start refinishing furniture, it usually begins with applying a chemical stripper to remove the old paint and varnish. I always use the mildest stripper I can find so I do as little damage to the environment and the wood as possible. Perhaps it’s silly, but it’s always hard for me to wait for the stripper to work, I am anxious to see what is hidden under the years of old finishes and paint. I never know what the wood will look like.

Uncovering the wood gives me the first glimpse at the life the piece has lived.  There are usually scars, worn patches, sometimes haphazard repairs made by previous owners. The scars tell stories of how the piece might have been used, worn spots where a child might have pulled a beloved storybook off the shelf night after night, asking their parent to read it just one more time. Or maybe the scuff marks are from heavy repair manuals for a car that has long since been hauled to the salvage yard. The gouges on the top where something sharp and heavy may have been dragged across the surface by someone who had little concern for the well-being of the piece. Until I remove the layers of paint and old varnish I can’t see these scars and wear. They are hidden from view but they remain, ever present. We may not see them but the piece of furniture feels them every day and cannot forget about them because they have contributed to what the piece is today.

Isn’t this how people often deal with their own scars and perceived flaws, cover them up so the world thinks they are undamaged? Don’t we often filter what others see out of fear of rejection, caring more about not hurting other peoples’ feelings or not being a disappointment than about our own well-being? Rarely do we embrace our scars because they remind us of the pain we felt in acquiring them, but they are a part of us and they helped shape who we are today.

So I set about uncovering the true nature of the bookcase, the varying shades of wood, differing grain and textures. Every nuance that makes this piece unique.  I sand as gently as I can, not wanting to cause any more damage, just bring out the natural beauty of the piece.  This bookcase was obviously made to be a work horse, utilitarian, with no intricate details. Much of the piece is easy to clean, but it has patches that need extra stripping and sanding. Isn’t this, too, like people? Sometimes our sadness or pain can be wiped away with a hug and a gentle touch, and other times it takes a lot of work. We have to go back again and again, facing our fears and scars over and over because they run so deep.

My philosophy with refinishing furniture is always to let the character of the piece speak out loud. With this bookcase, I didn’t even use stain, the color variations are so beautiful and the scars and watermarks make it come alive. All it needs are a few coats of protective finish.  Speaking for myself, I could use an extra coat of protective finish from time to time. Sometimes mine wears thin in places, too, leaving me vulnerable to cracks and dents and chips from whatever life drags me through.

I always use the best quality brushes and finishes I can, giving the furniture layer after layer of protection from further damage and extending its life. The brushes I use are expensive and it takes a lot of time to care for them properly.  It can take 20 minutes or more to clean a single brush, and it must be thoroughly cleaned in between each of the three coats of finish but the investment is well worth it. People need the right tools, too, when learning to live openly, embracing their vulnerabilities.  In this way, I see health care providers, mental health providers, friends, and loved ones as analogous to the tools I use on my furniture.  They are critical to our continued health and well-being, but they, too, must be treated well.  They must have their own protective finish that helps prevent them from being scarred themselves in the process of helping others.  Your friends and loved ones need your attention, just as you need theirs. Sadly, not everyone has access to care they need, or are lucky enough to have understanding loved ones to help them through. They are left to care for their finishes on their own, with few tools and little guidance or support.

And here it is.  The bookcase is finished, reassembled, with a fresh purpose.  It is ready to hold a particular set of books that make us think about a dear friend we lost many years ago. Each time we look at this bookcase we will think of George, his crazy sense of humor, his loving friendship, the way he challenged us to grow, and we will remember how grateful we are to have known him.  We’ve held on to these books literally for decades, searching for just the right piece to hold them.  This little bookcase is perfect, with its true nature on display for all to see, with all its flaws, proud of the life its led and ready for more.

Carly has shed 50 years of old paint and varnish, uncovering the beautiful person she was always meant to be. I tried to help her through this refinishing process, using the right tools, alternately handling her with kid gloves and elbow grease.  She continues to reward me each day for the time we’ve invested in each other, sanding, protecting, polishing, and always letting each other shine in our own beautiful, dented, scarred, wonderful way.

 

Being Married

A week ago our younger son married his lovely fiancé, in a private ceremony witnessed by a very few special friends, at a park that while extraordinarily beautiful could not compare to the beauty of the bride or the beaming adoration of the groom. They are perfect together, they complement each other, they complete each other and fill each other’s lives with everyday joy and simple love.  We’ve watched our son do small, romantic, thoughtful things for his beautiful partner, like picking out a Christmas wreath that may have inspired the gorgeous colors they chose to paint their bedroom.  His beautiful bride indulges his eccentric whims without flinching, like his love for right-hand drive Japanese cars or taking up space in their house to grow Ghost Peppers from seed.

Witnessing their love take root, blossom, and grow strong over the past couple of years has made me think long and hard about what it means to be “married.” Carli and I met in June 1986, married in November 1987, having spent not nearly as much time getting to know each other as we might recommend to our children considering marriage. But our marriage has not only survived, it’s thrived.  We’ve grown so much closer over the years, we’ve weathered innumerable storms, many that would have totally sunk other relationships but for some reason unknown at the time we determined to ride it out……..stay together and work it out.  Whatever IT was we were determined to work IT out.

And we did.  To top it off, we genuinely love being married.

So what does that mean? Being married? For a long time I’ve felt that people may be more enamored of the institution of marriage, and not so much of the long-term commitment required to actually BE married. We’ve heard for a long time that same-sex marriage threatens the “institution” of marriage.  What in the world does that mean?

I am sort of accidentally in a same-sex marriage.  In 1987 Carli and I had no idea we were entering a same sex marriage. I wore the requisite frilly wedding dress, Carli wore a dashing Air Force uniform, we recited the standard vows, celebrated in the typical Huron County and Airman fashion with a DJ, an open bar, paper flowers for decorations, and a big dinner. We were completely unprepared for the standard stuff that was in store, not to mention the transgender stuff that came along later.

So when I contemplate what it means in this country to get married, I think we fell into the same trap 30 years ago that many people fall into still today.  They confuse the act of getting married with the act of being married.  They value the institution of marriage more than the unconditional commitment to another human being marriage requires. Over the years there were many times we could have just hung it up and called it a day.  Left each other, never looking back at what we left behind, only thinking about ourselves and our own personal desires.  But for reasons again unknown at the time we stayed together and worked it out.

Today we know why we stayed together.  We needed to be together, we were meant to help each other, even if we questioned it or didn’t understand along the way.  Our commitment to each other as human beings was stronger than any preconceived notion of what “marriage” meant. We had absolutely no idea 30 years ago that we would live in Utah for 10 years, or Carli would have to travel 200 days out of every year, or that I would earn a Ph.D, or that Carli was transgender.  We knew none of this.  

We didn’t know we would spend countless hours tearing out and replacing drywall, or planting, harvesting and preserving vegetables. We didn’t know we would learn how to fix cars or replace plumbing or electrical outlets, ceiling fans, or swamp coolers. We didn’t know we would refinish cabinets and antique furniture, lay hardwood flooring, install tile and carpet, and map the fastest way to the nearest emergency room.

We didn’t know we would lay awake at night worrying about our sons, waiting for phone calls from California or Japan. We didn’t know we would move furniture and belongings dozens of times.  

I definitely didn’t know I would help Carli learn how to apply mascara or hairspray.  Not that I was able to help much in that regard, but I did what I could.  Because that, my friends, is what it means to be married.

Being married, in my estimation, means being there for your partner, for the family and life you have created together.  That’s it.  Please take special notice I am not saying I have to be there for Carli as if it’s a one-sided deal.  No, not at all.  Be there for your partner. Carli had to be there for me as much and as often as I had to be there for her.  Sure, there were plenty of times when one or the other of us seemed to be investing a little more in the deal than the other but that investment has always been returned.

To me, marriage is synonymous with us. It’s not something that anyone else imparts on us or expectations laid at our feet that we must live up to or we fail. It’s what we have built and continue to build together.  It’s not words strung together in anticipated fashion.  It’s the dailies.  Making coffee for each other every morning, adding a tablespoon of fiber for good health. It’s taking the puppy outside in the morning so she can sleep a few minutes longer.  It’s asking if the plant lights on the peppers need to be shut off before bed.  It’s finding a wreath with the perfect color to paint your bedroom. It’s helping her with her mascara.

Are You a Lesbian Now?

rainbow flag question mark

If I had a nickle for every time I was asked this question, or every time someone wanted to ask this question, I would have a lot of nickles.  The easy answer is no; Carli being transgender does not mean I magically shifted my sexual orientation. While I can understand people being curious about how this works, I cannot imagine actually asking the question.  Would you ask any other random person “do you sleep with men or women” in the course of every day conversation?  Probably not, but yet partners of transgender people are routinely asked this question, as if modifying our sexuality must be required to maintain our relationship. As hard as it may be for some to believe, it is not required and we are doing just fine, thank you very much. I cannot be lesbian anymore than Carli can be male.  None of us choose our gender or sexual orientation.  We feel it, we know it. It’s just who we are, deep within and no amount of guilt, fear, intimidation, legislation, or violence can change it. Many people feel forced to suppress who they are, hide away, refuse to acknowledge their true selves in order to maintain so-called peace in the family, to get or keep employment or housing, or literally as a means of survival.  But this does terrible damage to a human being and decent people do not request others to be someone they are not.  I can’t just stop being a white cis-gender heterosexual woman and no one is likely to ask me to. Why would anyone ask Carli or any other LGBTQ person to be someone they are NOT?

I’m not a lesbian. As a matter of fact, I am NOT a lot of things.

Black
I can’t dance
A good singer
Religious
Tall
A fast reader
Poor
A cancer patient
HIV+
A political refugee
A grandparent
Medical doctor
Homeless
Truck driver
Transgender

I cannot speak on behalf of any of these people, but I appreciate their lives, their talents, their uniqueness. I cannot share their experiences to such an extent that I fully comprehend how they feel, but I care deeply about their experiences. I cannot contribute to society in the same ways these people can, but I am grateful for their contributions. I cannot understand what it’s like to be in their shoes, but I can pay attention when they speak, hear their truths. I hear them and believe them. I cannot BE them, but I can stand WITH them.

Most of you are not the cis-gender hetero spouse of a transgender woman. You cannot fully understand what it’s like in my shoes, but you can pay attention when I speak, hear my truth.  You can choose to believe me when I say that it is indeed possible to be in a happy, healthy relationship such as mine and Carli’s.

When Carli was beginning her transition I couldn’t relate to anyone, I knew no one who was standing in shoes similar to mine.  It was lonely, I carried a weight with me and a shadow followed me relentlessly. But I did have friends who listened when I spoke, they heard my truth and believed me. They didn’t have to totally get it, they just stood beside us and continued to love and support us through something that was completely foreign to them.

So, while you may not be trans, black, poor, homeless, in peril, addicted, and the list goes on, you might be exactly who a person needs. Your compassion does not need to be accompanied by shared experience. Sure, it was a tremendous relief for me to meet other wives of trans people, knowing they have walked a mile in my shoes.  I no longer felt alone on this fantastic journey, they gladly took me by the hand and walked beside me, reassuring that I was on the right path. These individuals will always hold a very special place in my heart. But the reality is that the vast majority of my daily life is spent with people who do not have this shared experience.  This makes their upfront compassion and continued support even more appreciated and precious to me.  They were there when I needed them, filling an important need to be seen, to be allowed to show vulnerability in the face of uncertainty.

Never judging.

Always compassionate.

You may not be a lot of things, but you can be compassionate. You can be supportive. You can forego judgment. You can walk beside……….

 

 

 

Carefully Taught

Sometimes we focus so intently on everything we think is going wrong, all the unfairness, mean-spirited behaviors, outright hatred and violence in the world we get caught off guard when something goes right. This week I’ve witnessed a few go-right moments that leave me breathless, teary-eyed, and full of more hope than I’ve felt in a long time.

As most of you know I pretty much lived in my little hometown community theater as a kid.  Port Austin Community Playhouse helped define me when I was growing up, opening my eyes to people, concepts, and possibilities I couldn’t have imagined in any other way.  It all started with my first musical, South Pacific by Rogers and Hammerstein, when I was about 12. I played a Polynesian girl and all my lines were in French.  No, I did not then, nor do I now, speak French.  But that little part changed my life in so many ways.  There is a song in this play, You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught, that is sung by a young sailor struggling to reconcile his love for a Polynesian girl with his racist upbringing. Even at that age, living in a tiny, rural 99% white world I couldn’t understand why anyone would deliberately teach a child to hate and fear people who are different from them.  It didn’t make sense to me but I just wrote it off as something in a play, I wasn’t aware it was actually a thing.

Sadly, it is still a thing. Children continue to be indoctrinated with hate-filled rhetoric for whatever reason by the adults in their lives. These children will grow up believing differences of any kind are to be feared, hated, fought against, suppressed, wiped out. Their way is the only true/correct/legitimate way of being. The color of their skin is superior.  Their gender is better. Their religion is correct. My heart sinks every time I see a child at a protest holding a sign that promotes a hate-filled agenda, and my hope in the humanity of this country sinks as well.

And then one day a little white envelope appears on our table. Enter hope. A young person in Carli’s life wrote her a letter. It was a school assignment, to write to someone you admire. She wrote from her heart, saying she was very proud of Carli and she admired her for being brave enough to live her life authentically. She openly expressed her love for and support of Carli, and offered to talk or text anytime. She said she prays for Carli every day.  This child’s parents taught her carefully, just as surely as the parents of the child protester, but instead of teaching through fear, they taught through love.  They encouraged independent thinking, nurtured empathy, and modeled compassion.  They taught her to embrace differences rather than seek to destroy them.  Carli and I grateful for this child and her whole family, because they gave us back hope in our future.

There are plenty of signs that all is not lost, that people really can be decent if given the chance. One of our transgender friends told us about her successful coming out at work. The fear leading up to workplace coming out is intense, and people tend to play out various scenarios in their minds about how it will go. We try to categorize people by our expectations of their level of support and acceptance. Carli and I had many discussions about how she expected people would react when she came out, which ones were likely allies and which ones she expected to shun her.  As it turned out, she has been treated very well.  But she was very deliberate and gentle in her approach, and she had shared this approach with our friend who in turn used a similar tactic to come out.  We were thrilled and cried tears of joy when this friend told us how well it was going for her.  She thanked us for having shared Carli’s experience, it helped her make her plan and she was grateful.  She said she hadn’t given people enough credit and hadn’t expected them to be so decent to her.  This was a welcome, very pleasant surprise and another sign of hope in our future.

These glimmers of hope shine in my soul and keep me motivated to continue writing.  I want to share dozens, hundreds of stories about love, acceptance, compassion, empathy, and authenticity. Storytelling is education with a heart and soul.  It’s an important tool for adults to use when carefully teaching their children. Done correctly, it will result in generations of storytellers who will talk about the days when they helped wipe hate out of existence.

 

Glitter Jars and Rainbow Pens

I haven’t posted in a quite awhile.  Honestly, I’ve not been able to focus much lately, there is so much noise in the world it’s been difficult to clear my thoughts enough to write.  I thought maybe I could write something that was funny instead of serious, but that didn’t work.  Maybe writing about something concrete, like the number of shoes Carli has collected but even that wasn’t coming through clearly for me.  I decided the only way to clear the fog was to confront it, so here it goes.

Every form of public information, every delivery method, avenue, or medium, is overflowing with a cacophony of voices all bellowing to be heard over all the others. All messengers conveying the same fist-pumping, chest-pounding, self-righteousness spewed by people who firmly believe theirs is the one and only right/moral/correct way of thinking. It doesn’t matter that some of them speak to my heart or that some of them are abhorrent to me.  All of these voices are competing for space in my mind, my heart, and in my life, overwhelming my emotional and empathetic capacities. For my own well-being, I’ve categorized the competing voices into groups that make sense to me.

First are the issues that flood the news that have absolutely no reason to be debated any longer. These have been settled already, why are we still talking about these?

  • Same-sex marriage
  • abortion rights
  • women’s rights
  • adoption rights
  • school prayer

Then we have those issues that should simply be matters of common sense and human kindness or decency.  These are issues we as human beings inhabiting a living planet with other humans and living things should not have to think twice about. They should be a given and never up for debate in the first place.

  • transgender rights
  • access to quality health care
  • elder care
  • a clean environment

Finally there are the things that, as an enlightened society, we should be ashamed exist at all.

  • violence against the LGBTQ community
  • racism
  • transphobia
  • homophobia
  • misogyny
  • religious persecution

I’ve had to push away the things over which I have no control and that have no substantial influence on me.  I don’t give a damn how much income the president claimed on his taxes.  He is filthy rich and takes advantage of every opportunity to avoid paying a single dollar more in taxes than is absolutely necessary.  So, is this surprising?  I don’t think so. Did the Russians interfere with the elections? I have absolutely no idea, but whether they did or not it will not change the fact that the alarm goes off tomorrow morning.  I will still get out of bed, take the dogs outside, give them breakfast, and wait for Carli to get out of the shower so I can get ready for work. This does not mean I do not care about these things, but I refuse to allow them to consume my every thought or occupy every waking moment.

What to do about all this noise and distraction?  Well, I looked around, as all of you know I am prone to do.  Here is another list, but this time it’s a beautiful list of small comforts, and quick joys that are within sight in my little office. Each of these are important to me because they were either given to me by dear friends or collected during powerful, meaningful events with colleagues.

  • glitter stress-relief jar
  • pen that writes in rainbow colors
  • photo of my son and his dog
  • photo of Carli and I dancing
  •  certificate for winning the Rock-Paper-Scissors Championship at the college professional development day in 2014
  • a banner from Botswana

So now that I took time to remind myself of these small comforts and quick joys, I am in a better place to refocus on what is really important. The big things that actually matter and deserve time and space.

  • My wife. It makes absolutely ZERO difference to me that she was my husband for 28 years before she was known as my wife.  What matters is that she is a supportive, loving, attentive, kind, compassionate human being willing to share her incredible journey with me. I love her with every fiber of my being and she deserves to have me fully present in our relationship. Her transition makes me admire her even more, because she has gone through challenges I will never know and can’t possibly understand. But she did it, and she is amazing.
  • Our sons. I talk or text with each of them daily, with them often initiating the conversations.  We talk about our dogs, politics, religion, social issues, trucks, guns, motorcycles, gardening, NPR, higher education, the environment, beer, bourbon, music, our jobs. To me the topic isn’t nearly as important as the connection. I treasure this connection with them. I owe my own mother more of this kind of connection. My sons are good role models.
  • My colleagues. I spend more waking hours with them than I do with Carli during the work week.  I value their presence in my life more than they may realize. My lack of focus lately has had an impact on my interactions with them, my general fogginess and distraction bleeding over into my work unintentionally. They, too, deserve to have me be fully present and not distracted by irrelevant issues.
  • Our garden.  Yes, the garden counts as a big thing.  This is something Carli and I do together, and we couldn’t do it without each other. It feeds our bodies, yes, but more importantly it feeds our souls. The act of working the soil, growing living things that will sustain life, this is a heady experience that fills me with a sense of responsibility to the earth and to the creatures inhabiting it.

This is far too long a post now, and there are many more people I am grateful to have in my life who I have not mentioned this time.  But I do appreciate you for sticking with me until the end of this stream of consciousness.  Putting these words in print for others to read, as always, puts things in perspective for me. The fog will be lifted and I can once again be present in my own life, less concerned about all the noise.

Six in 48 Days

Take a good look at these two beautiful, brave women. They are two of the six transgender women of color murdered in the first 48 days of 2017.  Two of the murdered women we know of at least. Transwomen are so often misgendered by police and other officials the crimes against them are not accurately reported for what they are; hate crimes motivated not only by racism but by unadulterated transphobia.

My beautiful, white, 51 year old trans wife has secure employment in a safe environment, a nice home, access to quality transgender sensitive health care, and very good health insurance. She has never experienced the loss of employment or housing because she is transgender. She has never been harassed or beaten because of the color of her skin or gender.  I do not lay awake at night wondering if she will make it home safely. We have absolutely no frame of reference here.  We are incredibly privileged, we know, and we don’t take one single second for granted. No one has a choice as to their circumstances of birth, not these women, and not us. We didn’t have a choice, we were born white.  We didn’t have a choice, Carli and I were raised in families and communities free from the social strife and challenges faced by so many families of color.  Not once did we have to go to bed hungry, cold, alone, or in danger.  She will NEVER know what it is like to be a transgender woman of color and I will never know what it is like to be married to a transgender woman of color.

But I can be angry, frustrated, heartbroken, sad, stunned, confused, scared, disappointed, ANGRY…… We don’t know what to do, but we will keep working to figure it out. We will use our privilege as best we can to advocate for positive change, be visible because we aren’t as big a target as transwomen of color, speak out as often and loudly as possible.  But how do we know where to direct our efforts when we can’t pinpoint the origin of the problem?

What on Earth is going on here?! Do we blame this on an administration that emboldens hateful behavior? In part, maybe. Is this happening because we aren’t teaching religion in schools? I don’t think so.  Or are we experiencing the death throws at the end of an evolutionary cycle, making way for a dramatic shift in our culture? I sincerely hope this is it.

I hope Carli and I live long enough to see a dramatic cultural shift.  A shift that sways the heart towards empathy and the mind towards logic. A shift that allows for peaceful coexistence of freedom and equality. A shift towards critical thinking, common sense, loving your neighbor, and level reason. A shift towards an actual representative government.

I started writing this post at 7:00am and I’m finishing at 9:00pm.  Two important things happened during those few hours.

The Indiana state legislature defeated hate crimes legislation, leaving this state one of just five in the country with no additional provisions written into law for crimes motivated by race, religious, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

A seventh transgender woman of color was murdered.