That said, it’s been a challenge to put these things into action both in my professional work (the work I do that pays my bills) and my other professional work I do with TransOhio to support the trans and gender nonconforming communities in Ohio and nationwide. Admittedly, at times I’m pretty awful at juggling; yet as with everything in life, it’s about finding balance. Right? There’s an ebb and flow to everything. To help with balance as we near the end of the year, I think about all the people I’ve met and learned from over this and past years.
These are people that I grew up with, travelled with, and those I’ve worked with and learned with through my volunteer work. I also can’t forget those who I admire within leadership. In everything I do, I always try to remember to stay grounded, to stay humble, and to not take anything for granted. I’ve met amazing people across the country who have shared such intimate stories about their experience growing up and their self-discovery, especially in regards to gender identity and what that means to them.
I think back to when I was a kid and my folks would always say that when I grew up, I’d meet and marry a nice Jewish man who was a doctor. I don’t think anybody got what they had necessarily envisioned for me. I mean, they did get the “nice Jewish man,” but I know what they had in mind wasn’t what they got! Not to mention that what those identities meant to them then isn’t the same as they mean today.
For those who don’t know me, I’m trans. I was labeled female at birth, raised and socialized as a girl, and was expected to grow up to be a mom and a wife (married to a nice Jewish doctor). My identities are much more complex and intertwined than just being a “nice Jewish man,” and I definitely bucked the mold within my family. I think that they’d agree.
I have learned that I have privilege that I must acknowledge. I’m white, employed, have a home to call my own, and if you didn’t know who I was or what my background was, you’d never know I wasn’t born a biological male. Plus, since I transitioned, there are only two people lost because of my decision to transition, though, in reality, they were never really there in the first place. Additionally, white male privilege does exist and those who say it doesn’t exist are wearing a blindfold.
I work with organizations and community members to host Trans Day of Remembrance. I think about all those in my community, but primarily trans women of color who have been on the receiving end of terrible media representation, a never ending battle to make ends meet, horrific abuse, brutal crimes, and even murder. Many trans people must fight tooth and nail to survive and sometimes to even walk across the street. Their treatment is something I think about often – very often. I suggest that this season is an opportunity for all of us to check our privilege and to practice mindfulness in order to be more reflective and affirming as we move forward.