Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Which My Naive Heart Meets Reality

Ever have someone that you just click with? No matter how long the time between talking or seeing each other, you just seem to understand the other's silences and thoughts, their sense of humor and views on life. When I reconnected with a dear person recently, we were both shocked at how much we missed each other, and amazed at how we had managed to live 15 years of our lives without being friends.

What shocked me initially though, was that this kind person was nervous to meet with me. My friend feared that I wouldn't react well to the changes that life had brought to the surface. That I would, in fact, be uncomfortable or reject the possibility of friendship with someone who has finally begun to accept the reality that she is a She, despite what her birth certificate displays.

Am I really that unusual in my ability to accept this change so freely? Is someone being transgender truly something that affects others in such a profoundly vile way? Am I that incredibly naive to assume that the world would OF COURSE see the lovely person inside, without worrying about the external differences?

I've tried to wrap my mind around it, but my heart keeps getting in the way. For all I saw when I gave her a hug, was someone with a generous heart and soul, who wouldn't hurt a fly (or mouse). All I saw was the same sweet person from my youth. True, we've both gotten a little older, and compared a couple of gray hairs (grrrrrr) but the core of who we are is the same. The decision to finally "get busy living" and embrace her true nature hasn't changed the person that is inside.

But I heard the fear of being rejected or treated horribly in her voice. I know that the expectation of being hurt or pushed aside was already thought out in her head before we said hello. For the daily life of someone who is transgender is something I can only imagine...

This gentle soul has to hide her true identity at work. In this economy, none of us want to take a chance at losing our jobs, and the reality is that coming out at work regarding one's gender identity or sexual orientation is still dangerous. Most states don't have any protection for LGBT rights. Though Illinois has some, they are not all-inclusive or equal with those who are born into the gender they identify with or those who have a different sexual orientation. There exists the very real possibility that she could be fired without reason, simply because of who she is. And that? That. Makes. Me. Ill.

We need to wake up. We need to protect EVERYONE. Minorities aren't just ethnicities, religions or those with different physical or mental abilities. Every single person on this planet has something that makes them unique. Some trait, belief, or difference that sets them apart from others. What is YOUR unique difference? How would you feel if that very special trait made you fearful of hate crimes or of losing the right to live a happy, peaceful life?

I know I'm naive, now. I know that I am a little unusual in that I DON'T CARE who makes your heart beat faster or how you want to dress. I want only for each person on Earth to experience happiness, joy and acceptance. It is not up to anyone else to determine how you are "supposed" to feel happy.
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