(Ottawa, June 15, 2017) So in light of this historic moment when our nation finally recognizes and respects a wonderful segment of our society, the gender diverse (C16), I want to say thank you by sharing a story.
When Charlie and I travel all over Ontario to present our workshop on ‘The Gender Inclusive classroom/congregation/care facility/summer camp” we present a lot of science, data, facts, and at the end, we do a guided meditation and Charlie reads her poem “Gender Eye-Dentity”. It is usually the meditation and the poem that clinches the presentation and changes the practice of professionals who experience it.
The meditation begins by asking the audience to close their eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine they are alone in their room, and there is a lock on the door, so they are in complete mindful privacy. Everyone is asked to imagine themselves standing before a full length mirror, completely naked. In one hand they are to imagine they have a sharpie marker, in the other hand, a magic eraser.
The audience is invited to take a big deep breath and give thanks for all their body does for them, and appreciate the temple of their familiar, perceived faults and all. Then they are asked to take the magic eraser in their hand, approach the mirror, and imagine they can rub off the bits and pieces dangling before them in their reflection.
They are asked to then take a step back – and consider whether or not their view of themselves or the world is the same, now that they have no visible genitalia to define them. Do they feel the same about their role in life, their confidence in self or has the absence of their familiars somehow changed them?
Next they are asked to re-approach the mirror, and this time use the sharpie to draw in the bits they have never experienced before…in any size or shape their imagination demands, then take a step back and re-consider their reflection once again. Are they the same person? Do they want the same things? Has the world changed because of their fundamental jewellery change? What can they see now that they didn’t see before? How do they feel with these new unfamiliar bits? Do they suddenly want to skip rope, dance the tango or do the hula?
Those that are enjoying the adventure are invited to continue to positively embrace the anima and animus in each human spirit, the characteristics of self that can never be adequately labelled or defined.
But for those in the audience whose impulse is revulsion, distaste and contempt at their new reflection, we ask them to remember that they feel this emotion of physical self loathing only once, and soon the meditation will be over, and they will never have to feel that way about themselves ever again. We ask them to imagine what it would be like to never be able to escape that feeling of self hatred and discomfort. Then we tell them that is how Charlie feels every single day.
We ask them to remember that transgender people wake up every day and face a reflection in the mirror that does not represent who they know themselves to be, and this feeling of disgust and discomfort is never ending. It is a daily battle to be accepted, understood, embraced, and loved, not just by the world but by one’s own self.
Charlie then recites her poem, asking why it matters what she looks like, why can’t she just be her authentic self, and how she needs more superheroes to rescue kids from harm. She asks: `If God loves all our features – then why can`t I be me?`and closes with a humble request for a life of dignity and truth.
When the exercise is over, a few people are crying because they finally understand what it is like to be a person whose insides don’t match their outsides. It is always a beautiful moment between audience and hosts and Charlie and I are always changed by it, when we see the understanding and empathy alight in the faces of our guests.
So now that the Senate of Canada has finally passed Bill C16 and Royal Assent is only a formality away, we can celebrate, knowing that despite this success, there will be more bigots like Senator Plett. The long hours of work will go on to educate those who would continue to deny the humanity of transgender and gender fluid people. Legal protection was just a beginning.
True, some will never volunteer to understand, will always try to put our kids down for being different, or exclude them from life, as if they were merely an ‘ideology’ or a ‘social justice warrior’, instead of real people, with real needs, deserving of real protection.
Luckily there are always helpers like MPs Randall Garrison and Bill Siksay, Justice Minister Jody Wilson Raybould, and Senator Grant Mitchell, those who listen to reason and are committed to making fair happen.
Canada 150(00) will take on very special meaning for our family this year, we are so grateful for so many transgender, two spirit and gender fluid people, and their families, who worked decades to make this law possible.
As the Senate recently proved, 67 to 11, the haters will always be the minority and love will always win in Canada.
Today, like every day in the classroom, I love my country.