Grateful.

Posted by – November 28, 2012

I moderated a panel of four local trans people for an event initially scheduled for TDOR. They were all amazing: well spoken, focused, honest, heartfelt. I didn’t really have to do much as a moderator, to be honest, but did talk some about being an ally. I chose questions. Afterwards, a mom asked me how she could become a better ally for her son; we’ll have lunch.

I walked away from the event simultaneous thinking two things: (1) I wonder how many hours I have logged talking about trans issues? How many, if I compiled them all? I started my blog in 2003, and My Husband Betty came out in 2004, so that’s nearly 10 years of lectures, moderating panels, doing readings, attending conferences, doing trainings and workshops and more recently, teaching classes. There is trans content in every gender studies course I teach. How many parties have I spent explaining trans issues? If I compiled those hours, how many would there be?

And that’s just the speaking part of it. If I added the hours I have spent writing about trans issues, in emails, my blogs, press releases, the books (of course), and added in the responses to emails from trans people and their partners, the message boards I host, the online support groups… how many more?

The second thought was: (2) how did this happen?

I can’t say I really know.
I can say that I’m very proud of the work I’ve done.
What is surprising is that if I had ever decided to do this work I wouldn’t have thought it was possible. I was a writer, sure, but one who was often too shy to do readings much. I was a queer ally, but I never felt I had a perspective on LGB issues that wasn’t covered by someone else. And now, somehow, I have done all this talking and writing about trans issues.

And you know? The only thing that makes any sense is that it’s all been love. Not for my spouse only. Tonight, as with every time I see trans people speak on their own behalf, I am overwhelmed with it. It’s a profound and nearly religious experience for me. But it’s so satisfying just to stand up and say NO. Stop the hurt. Stop the discrimination. Just stop. And to say to allies: help me stop it.

It may all have been something of an accident — a gradual, amazing accident — but it is very lovely to be able to say: I am proud of what I’ve done. And amazingly satisfied that it used to be like a cry in the wilderness, and now? Now everyone knows trans people exist, at the very least. That wasn’t true even when I started this work. Most liberal people know they face untold discrimination and difficulties.

It is eminently satisfying to say that the feeling that we (as a community) were tiling at windmills when I started has become something else entirely.

And then, walking home by myself afterwards, just thinking THANK YOU to the universe for helping me find a place where I could be of use to a great many people, and where my skills have made a difference. It’s profoundly satisfying.

Kind of my late Thanksgiving blessing, I guess, & maybe sentimental or even maudlin, but it’s all true, too.

2 Comments on Grateful.

  1. Donna says:

    Helen, I’d very much like to express my own gratitude to you, both for all the work you’ve done in general over the last decade, and for everything you’ve done over the years that has helped me personally. Thank you for all of it.

    Donna

  2. divadarya says:

    What you’ve done is even more remarkable if you look at the nature of of this as a Civil Rights struggle:

    1) We often silent and invisible.
    2) Our “oppressors” are often members of other groups that are in struggles of their own.
    3) Our main struggle is often for simple recognition of our existence and even right to exist, let alone equal rights in the workplace and law.

    I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again; you aren’t the only voice, but you speak with such authority, intelligence, humor and compassion I often think you are the most exceptional.
    But then I’m biased. :)

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