What have you learned from knowing transgender folks?
How has your life been enriched?
This was my response…
I am a straight woman.
I am an ally.
For me being an ally to trans-folk is no different to being an ally to gay men and women. Being an ally is a personal learning experience; one filled with pain and tears, but ultimately an experience that not to be missed. Being an ally has helped me change. My opinions and presumptions have shifted. My willingness to question what I believe to be true has increased and my belief in the goodness and the God in each person has become more and more important. A chance meeting with a gay man when I was 19 started this lifelong change, and more encounters with people who are different to me has continued this exciting journey. However, standing alongside those who are broken and weeping is hard, and standing as a shield to them when they are in the line of fire is even harder.
So, to answer the question, ‘What have you learned from knowing transgender folks?’ I probably need to change the question to ‘What have you learned from being ally?’ as it is more inclusive. The answer is simple. I have learnt to be myself. Their struggles have helped me find out who I am. Being an ally isn’t a selfish thing, but it has helped me to grow into the woman I believe God intended me to be.
To answer the second question ‘How has your life been enriched?’ – well that is easy! My life has been changed beyond recognition. Without meeting those people to whom I became an ally I would probably have married when I was 21 and be happily ensconced in a charismatic evangelical church with a quiver-full of children. My life has been enriched by the most wonderful people. Those who challenge my perception of what is right, or what justice looks like and ultimately what God looks like. Oh, and not to mention these wonderful people have the best parties and the most outrageous fun. Life would be distinctly duller without them!!!!
Being an ally is painful, but more than that it is a pleasure and privilege.
I wouldn’t change it.
I am not sure that being an ally is something you choose to do… it is much more organic than that. You meet gay/lesbian/bi/trans people and you defend them, support them and love them. It seems to me that being ally just means loving people enough to want to protect them, even if they don’t think they need protecting.
In my humble opinion being an ally means showing that you can love.