“Wanted you to know that I have the package you sent your dad. He’s in NY until next week. Not sure if you knew that?”
This was the text message I received from my stepmother yesterday. And, at least, I know that the package made its way there. What happens next is a mystery, but my optimism is not very high.
I did not know my dad was in New York. When I spoke to my grandparents on Valentine’s Day, they mentioned he was heading to the New England area, but I don’t remember if they mentioned D.C. or N.Y., and they didn’t say for how long. What I do remember is that they said, “Well, you already knew that” after saying he was traveling soon.
But, I didn’t know that. I haven’t spoken to him since I sent him a link to my blog post, “To Whom It May Concern,” and in five minutes, he sent back his text: “You’re lost son and i am praying you will find away out of this darkness .”
That was the last message I had gotten from him.
But, it isn’t the last message he has from me.
That message arrived at his home.
And within the large brown packing envelope, rests, folded and printed, a blog post to be given to my grandparents. And on the paper, in poorly legible hand, is an addendum for them to read.
What happens from here scares me. What happens from here will likely hurt. What happens from here does not fill me with hope, especially as the new president continues an attack on everything that made America great.
If America was ever great, I find it harder and harder to continue to believe she still is as Republicans cower as revelations of collusion with Russia are hidden from the light, environmental protections are obliterated by a man in the pocket of the oil and gas industry, a new education secretary fails to stand up to a fascist demagogue in regards to transgender rights and wants to implement a school voucher system that research shows does not work, and the bigot who acts as if he has unlimited power unleashes what he calls a “military operation” to deport families and others trying to build a better life for themselves.
If this is what America has become, she no longer stands for liberty and is no longer the home of the brave. There is nothing beautiful about what is happening now.
But, perhaps, hope remains.
Perhaps, there is a chance.
What will you do with that chance?
I guess I am really not surprised.
See, I knew I would reach a point, reach a point when I had no other choice but to put my voice, my words out there.
So, I sent my last blog post, “To Whom It May Concern,” to four individuals. And, as I said at the end of the post, I am just getting started. Sending the post to my father, stepmother, mother, and brother is getting started.
Yet, there are always consequences to every action.
The first reaction doesn’t count. It can’t. I sent my father the post at 7:43PM. His response came at 7:48PM. Perhaps, he read it as shallowly as he reads his holy book, which makes sense.
His words read: You’re lost son and i am praying you will find away out of this darkness .
Ignoring the fact that his text reads like a graduate of the Trump School of Grammar and Understanding, he read my entire post in five minutes? And, this was his best response? To quote his strongman fascist president, “sad.”
But, sad for him. Seeing his words after over a year of the cold shoulder of disgust, I am finally able to stop putting in effort. My last post was drawing a line in the sand. His response shows that he has chosen where to stand, but he doesn’t even know that a line has been drawn.
My stepmother’s response came next.
Her words read: I’ll choose #3 but I am not one to stand. I will sit and watch and let what will be, be. This was a good article…why did McD have to throw out a quarter pounder at the end?! Love you!
It took some time to figure out what she meant by the quarter pounder, but apparently, when she pulled up the blog, McDonald’s had an advertisement at the bottom. Yet, the meat of her response, shows me where she stands on the line I’ve drawn. I appreciate her choice and her love, but standing by idly is not enough. If it was, I never would have sent out the post.
My mom followed.
Her words read: You write very well! I will always love you! I will always stand by you! I am sure i will never be who you want for a mom. I will try my best.
Slight guilt trip aside, this is a promising response. But, the proof will be in what happens next. Idle talk and promises are not enough this time. Right now, every minute that passes, we fall closer to the brink.
And, finally, my brother. His response came in a text wall of anger and support. I said what I needed to say. He said what he needed to say. But, his response straddles the line. Again, this won’t be enough.
Not this time.
This time. Things will never be the same.
This time. We ride the waves of hope and humanity.
This time. Our character is on the line.
There is no going back.
And, this is only the beginning.
And, so, forward.
Up to this point, I have written three letters that have changed everything in my life. Three letters that forever changed my life to a point where there was no going back. Three letters that forever defined me as a person. This is the third.
The first was written when I was dying. I was on the verge of giving up. I had hidden a part of me for so long that I just wanted to cease to exist. It hurt to live. It hurt to breathe. Yet, from a blind mix of fear and courage, the letter saw life, and it ended a relationship with someone I loved most in the world. But, instead of dying, I lived.
The second was written because I wanted to live. I felt renewed. I felt hope. I decided to confront my fears of their reactions and be true to myself. I had just come from rock bottom, and I felt alive with truth in who I was. Just like the first, the second letter changed everything. It was met with anger and disappointment and disgust and fear and hate and hurt. But, instead of letting others continue to control my life, I stayed true to who I was. I lived.
The third letter, your letter, will again change everything.
Will it, like the first, allow me to see the core of who you are and care for you all the more because of your acceptance and love and respect?
Or, will, it like the second, allow me to see the core of who you are, my memories of and respect for you to dissolve to shades of memories surrounded by a tumultuous onslaught of disappointment?
And, before we get to the heart of what I am saying, I must first tell you why. Why now? Why are you reading this letter now?
I wrote this to you the weekend after the inauguration of the 45th president of the country I have called home. I wrote this then. And, at this moment, I have no idea when you are reading it because I am not making any changes to it between now and then. But, I need you to know when it was written to fully understand the full extent of what I am saying.
You are reading this now because something has happened. I honestly don’t know what. Maybe, it is as simple as my inability to take the outright lies and divisive rhetoric spewed forth by the 45th president. My fear is that you are reading this because we are on the cusp, the brink, a slight shifting of the wind will send us to a point of no return as a country.
If history had provided a different path with a different 45th president before us, I doubt that I would have had the courage to send you this letter. Without this letter, things could have drifted as they have been. Yet, that was not the path that has been provided to us.
And, now, to this.
I need to know.
Are you with me?
Or, will you follow the path of the second letter?
Because the reality of what is going on is this. Depending on if you voted or not, you may have gotten it wrong. Less than half of America got it wrong. There is something wrong with the 45th president. When facts and reality can be refuted by “alternative facts” with no basis in reality, something is wrong. I am not going to provide you with the evidence. I should not have to. If you are the person I hope you are, you know deep in your heart, that something is wrong. And, you are afraid.
I am afraid, too.
If you don’t believe that something is very wrong with the 45th president, put this letter down now. Honestly, put it down and go no further because the core of the letter comes next. You have only covered the why are you reading this now part.
A few Christmases ago, I received a gift of a plaque with a quote from Steve Jobs. It is on a bookshelf in my office. I look at it often. I think on one piece of the quote in particular. “And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Every time I read the quote, I ask myself, do you believe those words?
Because my heart and intuition have led me here.
To this moment.
To these words.
And, I need to know, are you with me?
The first iteration of this letter went into the details of the how and why and had only one specifically small audience in mind, but those details don’t matter now. What does matter is what happens next. With this iteration, you still have options and a choice to make. And, a truth.
There is always a truth.
I am transgender.
When you are ready, come back to this line and know that you have three options, if you know me. And if you don’t know me, consider these metaphorical options of character. Option 1, you ignore it. We continue as things are and slowly drift farther and farther apart as the weight of the truth makes it harder and harder for us to bear. Option 2, you fight against it. You condemn who I am. You seek reassurance by blaming mental illness, the devil, the demons, my corruption through societal means, and this either abruptly ends our relationship or settles to a slow drifting apart. And, Option 3, you accept and respect it. You see that I am who I have always been, just more myself. If I ask to go by a different name, you use it. If I ask to go by a different pronoun, you use it. We move forward, awkwardly at first but with new found hope and mutual respect.
I am filled with moments when hope for the third option is almost nonexistent. I have seen and heard how family ostracizes individuals that fall outside their bell curve.
I have been told, time and again, that family is important.
What about people?
Are people important?
I ask because I can no longer stay silent.
The lives of every minority, woman, and child are at risk, but the ripple effect of what is happening will be far wider than just the future of this country. Without action, we fall. We fall as a country. We fall as a society. We fall as humankind.
When I was at the point where I no longer wanted to live, I was afraid of dying. And, I continue to ask myself again and again, did I choose to live because I was afraid to die or because I was brave enough to live?
Whether I chose life because of fear or bravery, I am no longer afraid of dying. What I am afraid of now is standing by. Standing by as bigotry, hate, and prejudice become the new normal.
I have given you my truth because lives are on the line.
I sincerely hope that you choose the third option.
I hope you choose acceptance and respect.
But, more than that, I hope you find courage. I hope you find courage to stand up for what is good and right and true. I hope you fight for this country. I hope you fight for human lives and rights. I hope that you can look back at your life and know that you were in the right. That when the pendulum swung too far, you pushed back.
You have a myriad of choices before you.
We all do.
I chose to live.
I chose to be true to myself.
I am choosing to stand up for the what is right. To stand firm against a presidential decree of bigotry, hatred, and prejudice.
If you have gotten this far, there is hope.
Consider every single action that you take, every choice you make.
Your choices stand before you.
What will you choose?
Where will you stand?
Are you with me?
Because, even if you are not, I am just getting started.
Holding Out for Hope,
A Fellow Human Being
There’s been a common refrain when people talk about this election. I often hear, “Oh, they are both bad.”
I hold my tongue. There are certainly things that I’d like to say. But, I hold back.
Even though, I can’t sleep. I’ve lost my appetite. And, I don’t feel up for doing much.
See, this election is different. In the past, I agreed with one candidate more than the other, and I would vote. This time, though, the stakes are higher.
For me, this election is more than Democrat versus Republican. It is about one capable candidate versus a racist, sexist bully and his anti-LGBTQ counterpart.
I almost feel sorry for Republicans. They created this mess, but only a few are standing up for what’s right. Only a few are denouncing Donald Trump for who he is.
For years, I watched Donald Trump’s idiocy on Celebrity Apprentice, and I, like many others out there, thought it was pretty funny when he announced his candidacy. It was ridiculous pomp and circumstance, with a hearty mix of racism from the get-go. Surely, no one would support this individual.
I was wrong.
I should have remembered the Wizard’s First Rule, people are stupid.
The amount of misinformation in this campaign is astounding.
Just yesterday, on my birthday, my grandmother, who I had always considered a very intelligent person, told me, “Well, if Hillary’s elected, we’ll have another civil war when she gets rid of the 2nd Amendment.”
Now, I should have let that go. I should have just ignored it because she voted in Oklahoma, and it is a deep-red state anyway. I couldn’t. I could not let it go.
“Grandma, she has never said that. That statement is ridiculous. She couldn’t get rid of the 2nd Amendment even if she wanted it. You know that, right?”
Perhaps, my tone was a little scolding and harsh, because her reply of “okay” seemed a bit taken aback.
We go on to briefly skirt around other political issues by talking about the cluster-fuck that is Oklahoma politics. They have the laughable idea of thinking a Ten Commandments monument will be installed at the state capitol. Lawyers are chomping at the bit for that one. Good ol’ Oklahoma, thinking that freedom of religion means Go-Christianity-Go.
As we continue talking, I bring up about how much misinformation is out there. I don’t bring up that the Russian government has hired tech-savvy individuals to post misinformation online to prop up the GOP nominee. I don’t bring up that there is a Colombian website that poses as an American news site to post false reports. Regardless, she states that she gets emails all the time that she knows are completely bogus.
And, here’s where I pause, because the first thing she mentioned to me about the election was completely bogus. That’s why I am scared. Because, people are stupid and can no longer differentiate between truth and fiction.
There is so much false information surrounding both candidates that actual facts get skewed and overlooked.
But, the lunacy goes beyond misinformation.
The hypocrisy of the Christian Right has never been more clear. Bible Thumpers far and wide are lining up to support a man who flaunts his infidelity, has avoided donating to charity, rates women’s looks on a 1 to 10 scale, encourages his supporters to check out a sex tape, and was in an adult film as himself. This does not count all of the cruel and hurtful things said about minorities and women. This does not count the time he mocked an individual with a disability during a campaign rally. I guess, a candidate endorsed by the KKK must really represent those important Christian values? Oppression and cruelty?
I really could go on and on, but it is far too upsetting. For me, a Trump win is saying that it is okay to be cruel. It is okay to be a bully. It is okay to be hateful to your neighbor. It is okay to insult and harass women.
But, beyond that, I know many in my family support Donald Trump. They love the idea of a wall. And, they see Hillary as the anti-Christ or the devil, which is confusing because, to some of them, I thought me being transgender made me the devil . . .
Here’s what I want to end with.
Yes, the Supreme Court issue is huge for me, especially if I want to feel safe in my own home.
But more than that, if Hillary wins, I feel like America believes I belong. Even if I lose more familial relationships I thought I’d have for a lifetime, if Trump loses, I’ll still be able to feel like I have a home.
I hope that America really considers their vote tomorrow.
I hope they’ve educated themselves with facts.
I hope they really consider what kind of America they want for the future.
But, in the end, I hope for a fair and safe election.