I have been swamped with my job for the last several weeks. While I was out on a work trip, I received a text from my friend Sister Luisa, exhorting me to read my email and respond as quickly as I could. I was in the middle of things, and filed it away to do when I got back to the hotel. When I couldn’t sleep that night, it popped back up into my mind. So, I checked my email only to be shocked that Luisa had sent a link to a story from the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) about a new Vatican document referring to “gender theory.” A second email contained the actual document.
Needless to say, that didn’t help me get to sleep. I was immediately awake, and my stomach and heart sank further as I continued to read the document from the Vatican. I quickly grew upset enough that I couldn’t read it in full, and I did a ‘college skim’ to glean the points they were making. Luisa had asked me to respond with my reactions; and my middle-of-the-night reactionary email was quoted heavily in the VOX article that came out the next day. One of my quotes is a subtitle for the article itself. “I’m sick of being abused by those who are supposed to be my family.”
At the beginning of June, for Pride Month, I updated my profile picture on Facebook with the following words:
Y’know, being this bold is not my style. It’s difficult for me to do. At the same time, I can’t stay silent as the incremental attacks keep coming. The closet is small and dark. Stealth is not advanced tech, it is just a closet on the move. I do not, and will not anymore, erase myself to make others more comfy in whatever mindset they have. Humanity is diverse. All of creation is diverse. It’s past time to get inclusive. #WontBeErased
When I posted the above, the incremental attacks were coming from the current US Government administration. Now, before the month of June is out, it’s coming from my church too. Plus, there’s more to come, Fr. Jim Martin posted yesterday that the Vatican document linked above, which was meant for the Catholic Educational community, is going to be followed up with a more expansive version from the Doctrinal office.
I don’t know if people appreciate how exhausting it is to feel like you’re being attacked, demeaned, diminished, from every corner of ones’ life. I’ve been around the block a few times now, I’ve survived a lot, and here I am still pushing the rocks, a modern-day Sisyphus who is still trying to gain ground just a bit at a time so that people who come after me won’t have boulders quite as big to push. I feel like I’ve made some progress because I’ve refused to give up. But, it’s exhausting, and it’s not stopping. In fact, now it might even be a bit worse because it’s not just a local conversation with people to fight for my daily existence, it’s a national and global conversation, one in which I have very little power to influence. At the same time, the effects of these conversations are even harder on the more vulnerable trans folks, the ones who also have the intersections of a minority race or the inexperience of youth.
Deacon Ray Dever responded to the Vatican Education document with a heart-felt plea and fear that the document will be used to discriminate against trans youth; including his trans daughter. He echoed my reactions, the lack of actual dialogue and the ignorance of science. Then, in talking about his daughter, he cracked my heart:
“It is difficult for me to adequately express how painful it was when our transgender daughter said that she was reluctant to make any long-term plans because if statistics about transgender people held true, she was not likely to live to age 40.”
At one point in my life, I didn’t think I’d make it to 30. I was suicidal when I was young and in college, wondering what the point of all the hard work was…who was going to hire a freak like me? All of the messages I constantly received was that I was not ok.
I have to shout from the rooftops now because I’m nearing 50 – and I’M STILL HERE. I am NOT going away. I will NOT be shamed into silence. There is nothing wrong with me. I am a contributing member of society. I’ve been working for the same company for 25 years now. I have a life. I have people who love me exactly as I am. I have helped others grow and be more. I’ve had to learn to open myself to love and that it is real. I have to fight and push away the rocks of fear every time I push myself out there, but I do it for these younger folks after me, the ones who are currently being crushed by large, unfeeling, uncaring organizations. I have survived, and YOU CAN TOO. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Please don’t give up or think less of yourselves.
Scientific American recently posted a blog with an important bottom line, and I quote, as well as provide the link: “the science is clear and conclusive: sex is not binary, transgender people are real.”
You bet. We’re real. We’re here. We are a tiny minority being scapegoated for others’ power trips. We might be someone you love – or will love. Sometimes we just need a big hug, a safe space, and a break from all of the exhaustion. I hope Jesus finds all of the lost trans sheep and keeps them safe, since our Church is refusing to do so.