What if living authentically could cost you your life?
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?
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.
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.