Eighteen Months and 13 Years

Today I reflect on eight months and 13 years my youngest daughter has been on this Earth. She has opened my mind to knew ways of thinking, of living and learning. She has taught me to look beyond the surface, to look deeply into her spirit and therefore into myself.

She was born with the brain and spirit of a woman. Biologically on the outside, she is male. But, what makes you “you.” Think of it. Are you just what people see on the outside or does the real you exist deeply —in the very heart of yourself? Have you ever wished people could understand or see you for yourself, what you are on the inside—instead of a label?

It makes me think of the movie Breakfast Club, but in a wider framework.

“You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal. Does that answer your question?”

Substitute your own words here: women, diseased, man, gay, straight, lesbian, Catholic, feminist, liberal, Jewish, conservative, Hindu, short, skinny, Muslim, fat, handicapped, healthy, cancer patient, agnostic, Crohn’s patient, mental patient—the labels are endless. You may not be able to relate to all these labels, but underneath all of them is a human being at the deepest level. What we can relate to is that! Our experiences may be different, but our desires for love, acceptance, belonging, deep understanding, ‘feeling part of something greater than ourselves’ are the same, including people we might label as tyrants, terrorists or evil. The point at which someone is willing to go to get what they want labels them thus. When a person harms others, he or she forfeits their rights to unfettered pursuit of their will.

For myself, I want to live more authentically, to strip away the mask of who I am and project to others. Our mask is what we use to protect ourselves from harm. If we reveal too much of ourselves or our opinions, we are afraid we will get hurt. Getting hurt is part of life unfortunately; but, it is the way forward. We have two choices: hide and be safe, or take risks, maybe get hurt, but possibly get where we want to go.

In the fight or flight response, I mostly choose flight, except where my passions lie—especially injustice or if I feel my children are being mistreated or threatened in some way.

In a few short weeks, we will appear before a judge and petition for a legal name change. I’m looking forward to that with much anticipation and joy. It will be such a relief to receive the official court order for her to change her name. Think how important your name is to you. She will be able to change her school record, medical records and be able to travel under her chosen name. It means so much to her.

She is so precious to me. I want to put this out there: the next time you meet or see someone on TV or on the Internet, someone you don’t understand—open your heart, try to see past what you see on the outside, try to understand that person’s point of view even if it is radically different from yourself. Think: what if this was my Son? Daughter? Mother? Friend? Grandparent? Uncle? Aunt? Spouse?

How far would you go to help a loved one?

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