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What if living authentically could cost you your life?

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Nov 09, 2010
Rev. Paul Langston-Daley

This post was written by Rev. Paul Langston-Daley

Living authentically takes courage, strength, and above all, faith. On or around November 20th, in many communities around the globe, people will honor and remember those whose lives were taken for no other reason than they lived authentically.

The 12th International Transgender Day of Remembrance is very personal to me, as I transitioned from female to male five years ago. Prior to my transition, I had friends who had done the same, but none that I kept in touch with. It was too painful to see them and know deep down that I, too, wanted to be truly seen.

But I was afraid to be my authentic self. What if friends deserted me the way I had deserted others? What if no one took me seriously? Could I find a church that would accept me as their minister?

I also knew the horror stories of trans people who had been “found out,” then beaten or killed. I avoided attending Transgender Day of Remembrance vigils; it was too close to home, too real.

This year, I will attend a vigil not just in body, but also in deeper spirit.

We must remember not only those who have been killed, but also those who have been rejected by friends and family because of insecurity and fear.

Will you join me in commemorating the Transgender Day of Remembrance?

Sign up to learn how you can host, support or attend a vigil near you.

Since my own transition, some of my fears have been realized. I have lost a few friends, and I have had trouble being taken seriously in my professional life because of my transition. I am seen by most as a man, and unless I tell people of my gender transition, most have no idea. But when some people find out, their confusion and fear step in and prevent them from taking the opportunity to get to know me.

Thankfully, my worst fear was not realized. I am alive.

As November 20th approaches, I will hold in my heart all of the transgender individuals who have made the brave move to be seen for who they truly are, as well as those who are still too afraid to be their authentic selves. I will hold in my heart the families and loved ones of those individuals whose bravery was met with misunderstanding, ignorance, fear and anger. I will even hold in my heart those who are unaware, ignorant and afraid, in the hope that they will understand and find compassion and love.

Please join me in commemorating the Transgender Day of Remembrance in your local community. I invite you to attend an event, and if there isn’t one planned in your area, plan something.

Click here for more information on attending or planning a vigil in your community.

We all need help to live our full potential, and when we stand side by side with others, we stand more firmly, more confidently, and more securely in our authenticity.

I hope you will stand with me on the side of love on November 20th as we remember the lives of those transgender individuals who risked all to be fully and wholly seen.

Rev. Paul Langston-Daley is the Consulting Minister at Prescott Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

7 Responses to “What if living authentically could cost you your life?”

  1. Connie says:

    Kudos for the courage to spk out for yourself and others

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. My roommate and best friend is a Transgender woman, and while it has indeed been difficult sometimes, she is much happier as a woman.

    I like what you said about DOR being for those who are afraid to come out, not just those who have been killed. There is such an overemphasis on transgender murders in the media that I was hesitant to do anything for DOR, because most people fear that and yet it is really not the most prevalent type of bigotry.

    Gavi and I have never encountered physical violence (thank G-d). Sadly most bigotry comes from “family” and “friends”. Still, it is worth it to come out in many cases…because really, if you live a life of misery, secrecy and shame are you really living?

    Thanks again for sharing.

  3. Patty Williams says:

    I will remember a transgender male to female that I met while working in a psychiatric hospital. I admitted her, and then counseled her. She found some support among the patients, and the friends she made helped become a support group for her after she was discharged.

  4. raziel says:

    nice article… while I have not or I think I have not encountered transgender ppl or so, there is no shame in that… whats worse than living a life you dont like, where you feel imprisoned… happy life is what matters the most…

    so yea, nice article :P

  5. [...] What if Living Authentically Could Cost You Your Life? [...]

  6. I really appreciated your words on living authentically. Thank you for the work you are doing on behalf of many.

  7. I run a support group for those who are in any phase of coming out. We have had at least two folks who are transgender come out while in the group, as well as lesbians, gays and bi-sexuals.

    We believe in living an authentic life, but we also understand that each person has a different family, job and situation, so every individual has to make up their own minds about who they want to be open to. Yet at the same time, being closeted takes its toll. We are there to support folks in any degree of coming out, trying to help folks live as their true selves.

    Having said that, I firmly believe that coming out is an on-going, life-long process. We all need to be there for each other and to be supportive of life-affirming choices.

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