Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which we will commemorate with a special service in the sanctuary tonight. On this day we recognize the many people who have died due to anti-transgender violence in our nation and around the world.
Recently on Facebook I made a big mistake regarding gender. I mis-gendered someone based on their first name and their photo, and I made a comment on their Facebook past based on the gender that I thought they were. In the context of the issue we were posting about, gender made a big difference. A mutual friend pointed out the error that I made, and I apologized to the person and rescinded my initial post.
This experience shows me that I have a lot of work to do about gender. When I reflect on what happened, I was projecting my idea of gender onto someone else, and proceeding from that assumption. I know that I do that all the time, subconsciously: upon seeing someone, I automatically want to categorize them as male or female. I am stuck in the binary world of gender categories, and therefore my work is to re-program my own thinking. There are more than two categories of gender. The male/female thing is convenient for me because that’s in my comfort zone and matches my own personal experience of gender.
This is true for other identities as well, such as race and class. Based on your appearance, I am likely to project on to you what I think your racial identity is…based on your clothes and the way you speak, I am likely to project on to you a socio-economic class identity as well. This points to more work for me to do, de-programming my own assumptions beginning at the conscious level and going into the subconscious as well. Because any time I assume that I know something about you based on a perceived category, I diminish your individuality. You know how you identify in gender, race, class and other categories—you may embrace identity categories or reject them; you may define yourself as this, that, or neither one. And no one else can do that for you.
Just as I want to be perceived and appreciated for my uniqueness and my nuances, I want to experience you the same way. I want to see past categories and into the real you—not the categories that I project onto you or the way I want you to be—but the way you really are.
God without gender, God without race, God who loves auto mechanics and college professors equally, be with me now. Remind me of the beautiful kaleidoscope that each human represents. Help me to remove the lenses that see only black and white, male and female, rich and poor.
Help me to create a community and a world where everyone is safe, where transgender people need not fear violence.
Let love and trust and understanding grow between each of us as we recognize each other in our individual beauty. May that love blossom within me and may it spread to the whole world with no exceptions.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Drew's office hours are suspended until further notice. However, he is reachable at any time via email, phone, or text.
Day off: Monday
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