As part of the Bilerico editorial team (an uncompensated part, I add, because it is important that you know I make no money from this), I watched the unfolding of communal anger with interest and not a little deja vu as I listened to the indisputable shouts of "You hurt us!" and "You insulted us, you bigot."
Others have handled the failure of our team in detail. I'm taking this opportunity to examine the breakage, to wonder if it will heal, to wonder if it was never whole and to wonder what will be left when the cast comes off.
I came to some conclusions.
No matter how hard I try to understand the strife experienced by trans folks, I will always stumble in my appreciation. In this regard, a parallel can be drawn between the trans community and my Jewish friends. I don't opine about the Holocaust with them because the depth of their feeling about it is off limits to me. There are some rooms I cannot enter with them. The same is true with my trans friends.
I think the best we can do for our friends and family who have suffered something we have been spared is to grant space to such a person and to guard the door of their pain whenever they are on the other side of it. Some pain is survived but never shed. We can never say to our trans friends or our Jewish friends "Snap out of it!" as Cher said to Nicholas Cage in Moon Struck. We can never be, as was Ron Gold, dismissive of others.
There never comes a day when someone can erase an old and serious pain. Even when you look in the mirror with pride at having become the authentic person you were always meant to be, even on the day of your hardest won victories, at the finish line, you break down in tears not because the struggle is over but because the struggle is yours forever.
This undeniable fact of the human experience must be embraced and honored by all who claim to be inclusive.
That leads me to an equally serious question. Are we destined to be one inclusive family, or are we on a fool's errand and destined to split apart, exhausted by our efforts to get along, and finally retreating into separate corners, the gay men here, the lesbians there, and the trans folks over there. And the bisexuals and pansexuals wandering through endless deserts and into our oases for temporary respite from isolation.
Must I eventually conclude that because I can never know the pain of a trans person, I will never be allowed into that particular communion? Should we give up what has been a noble effort to band together and to have each others back in the struggle for equality? Are we really so intrinsically different that "difference" will eventually trump "diversity"? Will the celebrations of Diversity eventually collapse and be replaced by the celebrations of Difference? (Men on Mars. Women on Venus, Lesbians on Saturn, Gay men on Uranus and bisexuals on Pluto, as in, "Is that really a planet?")
I don't have the answers to these questions. I am not sure how things will play out. If sexuality becomes as fluid as water (and I hope it will), all this fretting may become moot. If our straight oppressors continue to have children who, with every generation, become less and less homophobic and transphobic, we may be surprisingly overtaken by a golden era of sexual peace (I doubt I'll live to see it, but who knows?) - a happy Cole Porterish "Anything Goes" era in which it will be impossible to be trans-anything because all categories and labels will have evaporated.
Naive? Don't bother commenting if that is all you want to say. Please do comment if you have looked into the future and seen some possible familial constructs that I might be missing.
Meanwhile, I urge patience. I urge the setting aside of anger. I urge the acceptance of our mutual myopia without grudge. We are, like all clans, imperfect squabblers.
Let's embrace our inability to fully understand each other as long as we are willing to accept the premise that we will always be cheering onlookers in each others orbits. Like Samwise to Frodo, we don't know the power of the Ring because it is not ours to bear. Nevertheless, we can be loyal and true friends to each other and create a family despite ourselves. This blog is still the place to do it.
(Goodness. I do believe that I have delivered myself of one complete Christmas sermon. Old habits. Best wishes, my brothers and sisters.)