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On Disrespect to the Transgender Community

This week, our association was involved in the conversation about our transgender kin and the harm done to them by an article in the latest issue of The UU World. (I invite you to delve into the links below and see more of the discussion first-hand.)

I wanted to use this blog to call attention to the ways in which we can cause harm without intending to, and also to call attention to the fact that we can also claim responsibility when we have done harm. Most of all, though, I want to name and bear witness to this exchange which makes some among us less certain that they are welcome or truly seen.

These conversations around difference are not so much about exactly correct (note the irony of the cover story in this issue) as they are about being hospitable. In the same way that we chafe against men telling the stories of women, or white people telling the stories of people of color, we need to hear how those who identify as transgender, genderqueer or gender nonconforming felt erased by having someone outside of their community become a spokesperson for their experience. That the article was printed at all, shows the intention of the World to give us resources to better address these issues. That the people from the community who were asked to give input were not heeded is testimony to remember that we all have learning to do.

This is not about shaming people (though we will be talking about shame at tomorrow’s Breath and Spirit). It is about understanding how to be in right relations with one another.

At a meeting yesterday, I was asked how people who wish to learn more about marginalized groups can do so if they are not supposed to continue to go to the same people to tell their stories. The concern around this World article is now a public story and so we should all take the time to learn from it and grow our own hearts.

The point is not about shame, it is about our continued work to hear one another’s truth and to be willing to be learners and to remain curious to what we can learn.   I invite you to consider these links:

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