I recently watched the documentary Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story. The story of a Navy Seal who is transgender, and the obstacles and hatred that she had to face and overcome. I can only assume that the struggles and hatred are still coming at her on a daily basis. Threats on her life are also a regular occurrence. All because she decided to live her life genuinely.
I have a T-shirt that I often wear which reads:
Love thy Homeless Neighbor
Love thy Black Neighbor
Love thy Gay Neighbor
Love thy Muslim Neighbor
Love thy Transgendered Neighbor
Love thy White Neighbor
Love thy Atheist Neighbor
Love thy Christian Neighbor
Love thy Jewish Neighbor
I wore this shirt proudly, and was happy to let people know that my practice is about loving all people regardless of race, creed, color or sexual orientation.
And then I ran into a couple who informed me that as much as they liked my shirt, it was wrong!
When I questioned them as to why this was, they explained to me that it is transgender and not transgendered. I had to think about this for a while as I didn’t understand what difference it made. Then I realized that transgendered infers that it happened to you, or you became that. And someone who is transgender is just transgender. I don’t believe it’s a choice or a change that happens. It’s simply who you are.
I was so grateful for this couple. Had they not spoken up, I would have never given this another thought. And I would have continued to spread the wrong idea to everyone who read my shirt.
This experience really opened my eyes, once again, to how much I am still unaware of in this World. And I really do strive daily to increase my sati-sampajañña. But seeing things with complete comprehension and understanding is not something that any of us can gain over night. I believe it takes practice and a lot of meditation. It takes patience, forgiveness, and a strong determination. The determination comes from knowing that there are many layers below the surface of most everything and everyone that we come in contact with. And I think the best that any of us can do is to always be aware that there is more. And do not accept that what you see is what you get. Don’t judge, don’t assume, and try not to let your personal view cloud your greater potential to understand more fully and completely.
Getting back to Kristin Beck, I just want to personally and publicly thank her. Her bravery, honesty, beautiful heart and character are a beautiful example to all of us. And while she has been so highly decorated with dozens of medals, including the Purple heart and Medal of Valor, there is no medal for being genuine. She is a Buddha to me, and a beautiful teacher who lives her life honestly, with grace and an acceptance of all those who would wish her harm.