Why is there hate? Daily, I hear of more violence, more hate, more tragedies, more man’s inhumanity to their fellow men and women and wonder why? Is our world truly worse or are we just aware of it more? Why are black men being killed by the police? Why are black men being killed by black men? Why do white people kill black and white people? Why are police officers being ambushed and attacked? Why are people who are different demonized? Are gay, transgender, mentally challenged, different body types, ethnicity, national origin and any other reason thought of as less or dangerous? Why is a transgender teenager bullied to the point of stepping in front of a truck just to end the abuse? Why is there so much hate? Why? All these questions, however, make me ask the most difficult question for me, “What more can I do to help end the hate and violence?”
I am trying to help I like to think I am working to make a difference. I’m a transgender woman, unashamed and unbowed and visible in my community. I am a blogger, presenter at trans* events, letter writer, attend pride functions, work for trans* rights, vote, support my candidates, and I’m a member of HRC and Equality Florida. I use social media, phone calls and mail to support the rights of the LGBTQIA communities, speak daily as to the need for equality, inclusion, acceptance and love. Yet, with all these efforts, I believe I am not doing enough. What more can I do to get my message out?
I am trying to understand I am not a black man, but I speak with and hear from black mothers, sisters and fathers who fear for their son’s lives. I can never fully understand their fears, but I’m trying. I am not Muslim, or Hispanic. I’m not a refugee. I’m not homeless or hungry, native American, Palestinian, Syrian, Jewish or poor. I am distressed, saddened and angry that these and so many more people are marginalized, discriminated against, subjected to violence and genocide. What more can I do to be more of a citizen of the world?
I am a Trans* Being transgender, I work in a city and a county where I do not have any protection in employment, health care or housing. I drive two hours a day so I can live in a community the does have a human rights ordinance specifically protecting transgender and gender non-conforming people. I know of transgender and gender non-conforming people without these protections where they live who wonder if today will be the day they are fired from their jobs, just because they are Trans*. Even with all of the efforts of all of the Trans-activists, allies and government officials, North Carolina passes a restrictive anti-Trans* legislation that would not let me use the bathroom of my gender and the school board of the county in which I work passed the same rule. What more can I do to end discrimination of Trans* people?
What happens to the future generations? I worry about the world my children and grandchildren will live in. Will hate, violence and bigotry continue or will their world be a more loving and safer place to live? Will my grandchildren look back at our time and wonder why we couldn’t live together in harmony? Will fear and loathing still exist between races, ethnicity, religion and gender expression and sexual orientation? Will mothers and fathers in the future fear for their children every time they leave their homes? What more can I do to make our children’s future brighter and safer?
Here’s what I can do
I’ve spent a significant amount of time examining, asking questions, soul searching, talking with people I respect and just thinking about the dilemma. I’ve come to my conclusion I’d like to share. I have to say it is my conclusion because I cannot speak for anyone else since my circumstances and life differ from everyone else on the planet. I’ll cite my inspirations to give credit where credit is due.
1. Do good things, think good thoughts, never do harm.
I found this quote from John Wesley, who helped found the Methodist Church. I must try to do the best most good I can. I believe what I am currently doing is good, but I need to keep it up, keep it consistent and increase my work and beliefs when and where I can.
2. Make your opinions be heard.
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
By sharing your opinions, your experiences, your insight, you can help others to understand what you are trying to change or correct. Only by getting our message can we change the unaffected.
3. Live your truth
I believe this is the most difficult part of finding out “What more can I do?” First I had to know who I was. If I don’t know who I am, what I stand for, what I believe in, what I will not tolerate and what motivates my actions, how can I know what my truth is?
Secondly, I needed to know what my personal values are. I applied the “Do no harm” requirement which forced me to change some of my thinking. What do I think is right, wrong, just or unjust, fair or unfair and how can I work to change my perception of wrong to right?
Thirdly, was I willing to take the risks, face the ridicule and suffer the loss to help fix what is wrong?
Lastly, was I willing to take a stand, even if I stood alone? My father used to say, “We stand for those who cannot stand, speak for those without voices and fight for those who are unable.” I passed this on to my children and in this I’m called to fight for what I believe is right. The Vikings had it right!
4. Have a mantra that is uniquely yours
Choose some phrase that defines your life, your mission, your goals that, when needed, can be called upon to give you the strength that you need. My personal mantra follows my signature.
These are how I plan to combat the hate, fear, discrimination and injustice we all see. Most importantly will be in having the constant thought in my heart and head that, even if it appears the world is in such dire straits, there is good in the world.