Wednesday, March 8, 2017
International Women's Day #BeBoldForChange #IWD2017
International Women’s Day - March 8, 2017
Hi My Name is Cynthia, and I am a women!
I also happen to be Transgender. We will talk about me a little later.
My question for you today is: Are you ready to be Be Bold For Change?
Back in January 2017 at the Women’s March on Washington held here in Winnipeg I shared these words:
“I could spend the next 5 minutes telling you why Transgender women are women; and women’s issues affect all of us. Instead I challenge us all to take a stand and support the rights of ALL women.
I choose to not spend time trying to convince you we are all women because that only perpetuates the labelling of us – dividing already marginalized communities whether it be by gender, gender identity, race, ability, religious belief’s, political affiliations, sexual orientations, and body image.
Remember those that wish to divide us, only do so to conquer us . . .”
So how do we stand together and Be Bold For Change?
To answer that question I want to share with you a very personal moment from a conversation with my gender therapist early in my transition journey from about this time last year . . . I have edited the conversation for the sake of time today, it was actually an hour long discussion
My Therapist asked me “Are you a feminist?”
I responded with “I don t know, what is a feminist?”
My Therapist responded with this summarized definition that over time the perception of a Feminist has changed, from burning bra’s, free love, militaristic behaviour, to today’s Feminist, which simply defined, believe in equality for all.
And I responded with “Oh!!”
Yes, I am a Feminist, because I believe in equality
It was so impactful for me, but as they say you just had to be there to experience that moment with me to understand the Ah Ha moment I had just experienced.
Do you know what an Ah Ha moment is?
Of course you do! Your students and as you learn you make sense of many things your teachers share and when they connect in a profound way your learning becomes more real, not just memorizing, but now it’s experiential.
So I am saying if you believe in this definition I just shared with you that you should be a Feminist? Is that the Be Bold For Change I am talking about?
If we truly believe that being a feminist is as simple as it takes being bold then why are you here listening to me, because we know that this world does not simply allow equality for all.
Look at the folks around you,
Look behind you,
Look on the left side of the room,
Look on the right side of the room,
And look in front of you
What do you see? Differences?
Maybe you are truly enlightened and what you see are other human beings?
So A little about me
I was a Father – I am a Parent
I was Married – I am Separated
I was a Brother – I am a Sister
I was a Son – I am a Daughter
The one thing that never changed during my transition is that I am still a Human Being!
Here are first 3 paragraphs of my coming out letter that I wrote in 2016 to my friends, colleagues, and family. In it, I acknowledge that understanding will be difficult for some people, for some I now know it may be impossible.
“I am about to share some personal information with you and although I do want to be up front with everybody that I work with, some of you might think that this information is a joke. I assure you it is not. Comprehending this information, in fact, may take considerable patience, understanding and compassion. I expect that some of you will require a longer time to fully process this, as it is not a minor issue like a haircut or a bit of nail polish.
I am transgender. Specifically, I am male-to-female transsexual. I have been aware of being different most of my life, but only came to a realization in the last few years that it had a name and the extent to which I felt like this. This has caused me an almost inexpressible degree of personal grief and confusion.
After many decades of struggling with my gender identify, I have finally come to grips with who I am. I have been in therapy since the beginning of 2016 and it has become very clear to me that I cannot continue with the status quo in regards to my life without creating a union between my body and my spirit (for lack of a better analogy, my mind, heart and soul to not coincide with the physical body that I was born with).”
Transitioning my gender I consider the 3rd major transition in my life;
The first major transition was I was 6 years old living in Belfast, Northern Ireland, sometimes called bang city because of all the bomb explosions that occurred in downtown Belfast due to religious strife between Catholics and Protestants.
My father being English refused to be told who to be friends with and was friends with a wide variety of people. As I now understand too wide a variety as 3 men in black masks appeared on my parents door step to warn my father to stop being friends with the wrong people or else . . .
30 days later at 6 years old I was living in Canada with no idea why, so I transitioned to become a Canadian!
* 2nd Transition *
My 2nd major transition happened many years later after meeting what I thought was the women of my dreams, we got married and I choose to become a Roman Catholic, not something normally done for an Irish Protestant. I even taught catechism.
I never told my parents out of fear because of their experiences in Ireland, until one time they attended Christmas service and I got up to serve Mass. After they asked me, don’t you need to be Catholic to serve Mass?
I responded Yes and so my parents who faced the threat of violence in Ireland saw their child go through the 2nd major transition of my life, changing religions.
And now my gender . . .
- 41 yrs in the making, since 9 yrs old, I am a late bloomer compared to many others who @ 4-6yrs old know.
- 3 Big things in life that caused me to confront my gender identity
--> Hitting 50 yrs old
--> Last child leaving high school, no longer know as my childs parent, who am I?
--> Maximized Living seeking a deep reason to be healthy for myself
- 2 yrs ago major changes - Pandora (AKA Cynthia) no longer able to kept in her box in my head
--> Struggling to deal with my thoughts
Halloween 2015 - Cynthia had her first outing at friend’s son's wedding social
Halloween 2016 - I was living full time as Cynthia
Son - 23 yrs - longest to meet me - 30 seconds and he was OK
Daughter - 19 yrs – active in the 2STLBGQ* community in high school - Different when it's your dad
Wife - 31 yrs married, we are divorcing. I hope one day we can be friends.
So what about that Be Bold For Change?
Do you remember when I asked you to look around?
I asked What do you see? Strangers? People Different from you? Queers?
Or Maybe you are truly enlightened and what you see are other human beings?
So if Feminism allows us to see each other equally as Human Beings, is that being bold?
No, but I believe that Acceptance without Understanding is being Bold.
In that concept of equality for all (human rights for all) it beg’s the question, do you need to have understanding of me as a human being and the life journey I am on in order to define if I qualify for human rights?
Is that any different when we see human beings with a skin of a different color? Or from another country, different religion, different gender, or of Indigenous origin?
Reality is that if you consider yourself a human being you are already accepting, while I suspect most of you don't understand, that’s OK and your not alone.
When I talk about acceptance, I am not asking you to accept whatever you perceive as my lifestyle. I am simply asking you to accept me as a human being.
Accept that as a human being my life journey takes me on a path, just as yours takes you on your life path. I ask that you accept that I am following my path.
I am not asking you to accept that I decided this, because as you will learn, being Transgender is not a choice. Would you choose to risk losing EVERYTHING (loved ones, family, friends, home, career, finances) just to be transgender? We have not decided to risk it all, our life journeys have taken us on this path. We could continue to deny who we are in the many ways it manifests itself, but the unprecedented high double-digit suicide rate in all age categories is but one result of not following this life journey we are given.
For some people they will never understand and that's OK, because some days I am not sure I do. That’s why we use mental health professional’s who do not pass judgement on us, but help us unpack this journey so we can accept ourselves without the prejudice of understanding.
The reality is that you may never understand other human beings.
And that's OK, because I am not asking why me, I am moving forward with the life journey I am on because moving forward is the only way we can go.
So Be Bold and please accept ALL of us without understanding