The following was posted on It was in reply to a thread entitled Stand up, Be proud! Fight for your rights, take a stand.

I have yet to read anything which speaks more powerfully to why we as members of the transgender community should take a stand for our rights.

Its Independence Day

By: Dr. Tekla Katrina West, July 2006

It has been said that fortune favors the bold, so too, freedom lies in being bold. Ain't ever been no other way about it, ain't gonna ever be no other way neither. There is no smooth road, no easy walk. But to choose to do nothing just sucks. To to live, in fear, in loathing, in guilt and shame - (over what amounts in a lot of ways to just a fashion choice, yeesh) - hell, that's just degrading. And it degrades not just you, but everyone around you also.

For myself, I simply got to a point in my life where the choice was between withdrawing from the world - which I believe that most people do, choosing, in the words of the poet, to "lead lives of quite desperation" - or was I going to live, or try to live, attempt to live, the way I wanted to? I did not seek any sort of radical reordering of society, but simple dignity, strong courage, and a touch of humor. I only sought composure, compassion and reasonable safety. It seemed bold at first, but after a time it became routine. In a place like SF or NYC, where there are so many TG persons, the simple effect of having so many who were out has resulted in making it no big deal. You get enough people, you got a movement. Its that simple.

Besides, which of those goals and desires was over the line? Which are not the birthright of every human on the planet? Who among us is not entitled to dignity? Who should fear courage? Should we not all maintain composure and give compassion? Should we all not be able to walk down the street in safety?

OK, so your a bit different, but is not freedom almost always, and exclusively at that, precisely for those who think different, who act different, who are different? {ed. note here - your 'unique difference' is shared by at least a few million people. Different perhaps, unique, think again.} And freedom is a multiplier, so that as Marianne Williamson said "as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

By the same token, when freedom is taken from one, does it not also end up begin taken from all? Is not violence against TGs not far from either violence against women or violence against gays? Ain't these the same people who wore sheets? Who liked to march and yell 'Sieg Heil!' Who loved a good lynching? Who beat their wife's? So if you step back, refuse to take a stand, are not your SOs, your daughters at greater risk?

Yes sure, you have much to lose. You might find that once its gone you might not miss it all that much. Besides, if you are hiding you have already lost it, you just don't know it yet. Nothing can be submerged, hidden, forever. Nature abhors secrets. They will be found out. And besides, its not all about you. Sorry. Its about us. And us is not just CDs, or TGs, but I believe all of us. Particularly now. "In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than just ideals to be valued - they may be essential to survival," as Noam Chomsky would remind us. So it goes beyond you and me. It goes beyond our kids, our jobs, or our pensions. We might lose all those things and more if change is not brought about.

You say 'I can not hurt these people.' Haven't you done that already? By lying to them, hiding from them a part of you that is real, that is deep, and that is important in some way. In not telling that little girl so long ago the truth you: a) sold her a bill of goods where the merch did not match the packing slip; and b) sold her short by assuming that she could not handle it. Gee whiz, no wonder she is a bit put off. Who wouldn't be?

So of course your SO does not / will not accept you. You don't accept yourself. You lied. You hid. You existed in shame. Who wants to accept that? Who wants to share in that?

Are you worried that people will not like you? Well, wake up and smell the coffee princess, they ALREADY don't like you. You just have not let them know it yet. Nor are you letting the people who might like you, who might accept you, who might even love you for who you really are (instead of what you are pretending to be) know who you are and groove on that.

Be strong in who you are, almost everyone will accept that. I've seen far to many examples of successful people living good lives with plenty of support and loving relationships in them to think any differently. Learn to like yourself, and others will follow.

Or you say you could lose your job. Lose your job? OK, there are other jobs, perhaps even better jobs. But trading your freedom and dignity for a handful of nickels and dimes? Respect? For what? Chump change? (PS a sister of mine transitioned as a VP of Bank of America in charge of home mortgages, so don't tell me it cant be done.)

And in each of these you give away bits of yourself. You become less, not more. Again, who really wants to be with someone who's life is a path of constant diminished expectations?

If you give away the little pieces of your self, sooner or later you ain't going to have a real self. Judy Garland told others to “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” To which I can only add that being what others want you to be is a third-rate existence at best, the effect of which renders you pretty much a fourth-rate person.

So I'm going to add the words of Sam Adams, patriot - and pretty good beer maker too - when he addressed those who would not join in the Revolution. "If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

My sisters are on the street, in the cafes, at their jobs, riding the public transit. They are working with organizations, doing political lobbying, engaging in outreach. They are working to change things one law at a time, one person at a time, one day at a time. And if not today, well, "tomorrow is another day." And if need be, we are going to do it tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that. We will try to use every tool we can. We will use the political system, the legal system, the judicial system, the court of public opinion. We will use art, mass media, books, poems, speeches, rock songs, and web sites. We will work with politicians, businessmen, social workers, and church persons. We are not going to back down. We are not going to give up. Surrender is not an option, and my closet is too full of clothes for me to ever fit back into it. So I'm not going. I'm working, I'm organizing, I'm writing, giving lectures, having conversations, and I'm out joining with my sisters. Its not huge, its just my part. Many hands make easier work.

Some ask why be so militant?

I find the words of Rabbi Sherwin Wine to be particularly true in this instance.

"There are two visions of America. One precedes our founding fathers and finds its roots in the harshness of our puritan past. It is very suspicious of freedom, uncomfortable with diversity, hostile to science, unfriendly to reason, contemptuous of personal autonomy. It sees America as a religious nation. It views patriotism as allegiance to God. It secretly adores coercion and conformity. Despite our constitution, despite the legacy of the Enlightenment, it appeals to millions of Americans and threatens our freedom.

The other vision finds its roots in the spirit of our founding revolution and in the leaders of this nation who embraced the age of reason. It loves freedom, encourages diversity, embraces science and affirms the dignity and rights of every individual. It sees America as a moral nation, neither completely religious nor completely secular. It defines patriotism as love of country and of the people who make it strong. It defends all citizens against unjust coercion and irrational conformity.

This second vision is our vision. It is the vision of a free society. We must be bold enough to proclaim it and strong enough to defend it against all its enemies."

Over my dead body does the first version win out, because if it does, it will be my dead body, and not in a manner of my own choosing & not by old age neither.

And its enemies are legion in our current age. We find all sorts of liberties on the wane. Freedom of speech is now more like watch what you say. Freedom from surveillance is all but erased. Phone records, banking records being collected and sifted through looking for who? For what? And through all this, violence against those deemed more marginal is on the rise again. Who will be the next name on Ms.Smith's web site. Who gets to be the next Lifetime movie by winding up like Gwen?

We are in a process. It has been long evolving. In the 60s there were one or two. In the 70s a few more. By the late 80s there were enough to begin to address the wrongs. By the 90s laws were being written, and unwritten. Now in the new century there is a whole bunch of us. Out, about, working, living, loving, laughing, and crying in the open, in public, just like everyone else.

"And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in say "Shrink, You can get anything you want, at Alice's restaurant.". And walk out. You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singing a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement."

And it is a movement. And its moving. Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way, the boys would say, but I think its more like old Arlo was thinking, about a bunch of people doing it day in and day out. The basic structures for change are in place. They are few, and they are underfunded, but there are organizations, associations and groups doing the academic research and writing. There are people doing the legal stuff, there are people doing political organizing and educational outreach, and others who are doing inter-TG outreach, trying to gather the greater whole of us together. Great strides, many of which were unimaginable 15 years ago have been made in many areas. We have won a few legal battles and precedents are being set. We have won many political battles on local levels, and are working toward state victories now. Its not all locals, certainly not all states. But its a start.

Its beyond transition and more akin to transcendence. Its about becoming transparent. I'm talking about reaching higher states of consciousness. This is not about REVOLUTION, as much as I feel its about EVOLUTION. If the first must happen for the second to occur, then so be it, but I don't think it does. Our opponents are cowards. They are believers in some mumbo-jumbo voodoo made up by people a couple of thousand of years ago who were wandering in the desert and had obviously been out in the sun WAY TOO LONG. (that's Judo/Christian/Islamic nonsense, just so no one misunderstands me. - and hey, not to worry, they are REAL busy killing each other off these days - our superstition is better than your superstition, nay nay nay nay nay.) Given the light of reason and enlightenment ( i.e. Science), these values scurry like cockroaches when the lights are turned on in a tenement slum. This is part of the great pattern of human evolution, where civilization is a direct result of the feminine nature, not the masculine dominance. Where the basic survival of our species is dependent on female centered values of nurture, of cooperation, of harmony, of domestication, and where the basic survival of our species is threatened by the testosterone soaked values of war, greed, and competition. We are the last best hope of humanity, the last chance of survival. Let's act like it.

You know girls - at least the American ones - REVOLUTION IS YOUR BIRTHRIGHT, live up to it, while you still got a life to live. Its sure more than Gwen or any of the other names on that list have.

Here on this day - of all days - when we are celebrating our right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" - which seems to me to fit us perfectly - let us recall the words of Patrick Henry: "Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"

Our sisters have died, and are dying. All I want is the ability for all of us to live as we are in peace, liberty, love and happiness. If that ain't worth fighting for, what it?
your pal, tekla
Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess.

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