My hope is that by being openly-transgender, people will see our truths more clearly. How sad that any young person would not be able to believe they can be their authentic self. My heart is broken but my resolve is re-doubled again.
I hate the ignorance and the religious intolerance that precipitates actions like the ones chosen by Leelah Alcorn. I hate the fear and the refusal to acknowledge the simple science that aligns with the diversity of God, or nature, or even the science itself. We are all different.
The notion that my body tells my mind and soul who I am on the gender spectrum is utterly absurd. I hate that this simple truth has ever been, or would ever be, a point of contention. It is not possible for anyone other than me to know my gender. But I cannot hate the people whose actions and beliefs are at the very root of why a transgender teenager would find it necessary to end their own life.
Believe me, it’s not because I don’t want to hate them. Every ounce of my being screams out to hate them, to punish them, to destroy their evil wickedness. Every cell in my “XY” body and every cell in my “XX” brain are concurrently exploding in anger and pain.
I have stood in the meeting rooms of city councils and state legislatures and I have listened to person after person come to the podium to denounce my humanness and the humanness and dignity and value of all people who are transgender. I have spent the wee hours of the morning on the phone with transgender teenagers who are trying to find just one reason why their lives have meaning; why they shouldn’t just end their pain.
Martin Luther King, Jr. understood the dynamics of effective change. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Jesus understood the same thing. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).”
Hate is not the answer. Hate will never bring about the change we hope to see. Only love can open the doors that are locked. A few years ago, I began to understand what was needed to open these doors, and I wrote these words that have sort of become my mantra:
Knowledge and information are the keys to acceptance and understanding. Fear and ignorance are the locks. When one person shares, a key is placed in a lock. When one person listens, the key turns and the lock opens and another human being has a bright new shiny key. Together, one person at a time, we change the world.
Where does the hate stop? Should we all hate Rush Limbaugh, and Bryan Fischer, and Tony Perkins? Should we hate the HRC for abandoning transgender people in 2007? Should we all hate John Boehner for not putting ENDA up for a vote?
Where does it stop? Should we hate all the people who believe being gay or transgender is a sin? Should we hate the people who don’t have a problem with LGBT people, but go to the polls and vote for candidates who do have a problem? How is all of this hate going to make things better?
I know that the road to change is paved with the bricks of love. I have seen in my own journey as doors that would seem to be locked forever have opened and light has replaced the darkness that lived there before.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Love is not quiet. Love is not hidden. Love is not a way of seeing things. It is, it must be, a way of doing things. My friend Caela, who is the pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Manhattan, Kansas responded to my Facebook post that is repeated as the opening paragraph to this blog.
She said, “Resolve is strengthened to do better, to do more, to love loudly.” This is the answer. It is the only answer. Perhaps we could try to find a way to love those who harm us. It is the only possible response that will bring about the change we hope to see.
Last year, I started the Transgender Faith Tour. I was able to visit several faith institutions in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri and share this message of love. I saw doors open that seemed to be locked forever. This next year is already promising possibilities for visits to churches in Arkansas and Florida, perhaps more.
The last thing we need to do is to hate those who harm us. The only thing that can make it different is unconditional love. Does your institution of faith have the knowledge and information it needs? Maybe, someone like me could come to a church like yours and place a key in the lock. Maybe, if even one person listens, the key will turn and the lock will open.
Stephanie Mott is a transsexual woman from Topeka, Kansas and a nationally known speaker on transgender issues. In addition, Stephanie is the executive director of Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project and a commissioner on the City of Topeka Human Relations Commission. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org