Monday, November 21, 2016

One Step At A Time During These Extreme Times

Since the recent news of the election in the U.S., I've pondered how I can be of service during these extreme/intense times we are living in. I feel that simply being and existing in this world as my most authentic self is a courageous and radical act. As a Queer/Trans identified Transman, I felt waves of disbelief, shock, fear, sadness, anger, and the beginning of the grief process on Tuesday night, Nov. 8th. I was in my Co-Counseling class in Portland, OR. The class began at 7PM and ended at 9:30PM. All day on Tuesday, I was envisioning Hillary Clinton as our next President. Hillary smiling victoriously as she was named the first woman president of the United States of America. I had been sending prayers up and out for her to win throughout the election cycle. Including intentions for her to be the next President on my New Moon intentions and candle lighting. Having watched and/or listened to all three presidential debates, I found it unfathomable that T**** could possibly win. He didn't have a plan. He didn't have experience to be the leader of our country. With his hate fueled racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic rhetoric, I equated him to Hitler. T**** is abhorrent yet what concerns me is the millions of people who resonated with his hate fueled agenda/platform. That is truly scary. As well as what would happen to Muslims, Immigrants, the LGBTQ communities, People of Color, Women, and anyone who isn't a white, cisgender, straight male who is able bodied in our society.

During the first 10 minutes of the Co-Counseling class I'm taking on Tuesdays, we paired up with a person in the class and each person had 5 minutes to discuss their feelings/thoughts about the election. I held space and heard one classmate who happened to be a cisgender white man. He told me that he didn't feel it would be any different if Hillary or T**** won. I did my best to hear him and I did hold space. Yet, I was shocked by that comment. That it didn't matter who won the presidency. When, yes it truly does. That comment to me was the epitome of white, cisgender, male privilege. Being blind to all of the ways that one is privileged. The privileged belief that if something doesn't affect one directly, then it's easy to ignore. 8 years of LGBTQ rights that have been advanced during the Obama administration could be abolished/overturned during a T**** administration. Roe vs. Wade could be overturned. Obamacare would be repealed. Millions of immigrants and children could be deported and separated from their parents and families. Environmental protections could be overturned, etc. The Dakota Access Pipeline could pollute water that millions of people depend on under a T**** administration. And so much more. This is the tip of the iceberg. I shudder to think about international relations now that the U.S. does in fact have T**** as our next president.

I gave a few lyft rides home after my co-counseling class on Tuesday, Nov. 9th. I remember how quiet the streets were. There was a chill in the air. It was so quiet. I reflected back on how uproarious Portland was when Obama was first elected in 2008. That was during the first three years when I lived in Portland and the year that I came out as Transgender. There was so much celebratory noise, people were so happy, and it felt like the entire city celebrated. November 9th, 2016--a quiet chill. The first lyft passenger who I drove to their home didn't know what to tell her students the next morning. She is a teacher who works with grade school aged children. I didn't know what to tell her either. I said it was difficult. How do you share this news with children in a way that they can understand? I told her that I've worked with children before and studied Waldorf Education. I suggested telling a story to the children. The next couple of people who I drove to their destinations were in shock as well. We talked about human rights and the lack thereof under a T**** administration. I chose to drive home after a few rides since I was emotionally exhausted and overall in shock.

I did some research on the internet when I returned home and saw all of the red states and so few blue states on a map of the U.S. Hillary was winning the popular vote yet not the electoral college. I felt fear. What about my Trans affirming healthcare? I wouldn't be able to afford the healthcare that I have through the Affordable Care Act if Obamacare is abolished. I felt fear as a Transman regarding important documents such as my passport, birth certificate, etc. that I still need to change the gender marker to male on those documents before T**** is inaugurated as President in January. I felt concern for every human being who isn't a a white, cisgender, straight male in this country. I cried a few times. I scrolled down Facebook and read different posts from friends and community members. It was difficult to fall asleep on Election night.

It felt like a collective nightmare.

We're all in it.

This is it.

I've been in process. During the past 12 days, I've talked about my feelings/thoughts about the election to friends, housemates, lyft passengers, classmates, a barber, my parents, and community members. As a coping mechanism, I've been keeping active. Continuing to work on Wednesday morning when I would have rather stayed curled up in bed or simply at home all day, in mourning. In process, feeling all of my feelings. I've been feeling all of my feelings while working, taking care of practicalities, appts., taking care of myself, and living an active life.

One way that I thought I could be of service is to write about my experiences. Thus, I'm finally writing about my experience for people to read and digest on their own schedules. This past week, I didn't want to talk about it anymore. I simply wanted to be and to write about it. I know that the majority of people whom I spoke with and have interacted with are devastated. It feels like a collective grief process that so many people are feeling and going through. On an individual level, everyone's S**T is activated right now. This is it, we are in the thick of it. It's messy, it's scary, it's beyond the beyond. Everyone can see America's blood, pus, and unhealed wounds. What was ignored and in the collective shadow is now clearly visible. It's a national and global healing crisis we are experiencing. My Mom said today that the healing part hasn't begun yet.

In this Country, the foundation and history of racism, misogyny, indigenous persecution, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, etc. all of these isms and the social, cultural, and political institutions that uphold all of the isms is clearly visible and in the light. Illuminated for all to see. Needing to be reckoned with, acknowledged, and healed. In my opinion, the United States, as a Country needs to acknowledge all of the isms and apologize to Indigenous people in the U.S. and to all black people for all harm and persecution done. Reparations need to be made. The trauma of slavery needs to be acknowledged and sincere apologies and reparations need to be made.

There is so much division in this Country. Between T**** supporters and those that are abhorred at T****'s message of hate and discrimination. There are other stances yet I'm honing in on the major divisions in this country between acceptance/unity vs. hate rhetoric.

I began this blog to write about hope. I'm doing my best to take one step at a time. To breathe. To eat healthy foods, keep hydrated, and take excellent care of myself during these very challenging and extreme times. To reach out for support. To be heard, seen, and mirrored with love, compassion, and kindness. To connect with community. To do all of the steps to get a new passport before January as well as a new birth certificate with my name and male gender marker on it.

A few days after the election, a lyft passenger said my name correctly, Ewan. With an emphasis on the E. (ee-whan). I turned and looked in the passenger seat behind me and it was a friend who I met in Albuquerque when I lived there for 6 months in 2013-2014. (For this person's privacy, I'm not going to reveal their name). They have lived in Portland for two years. I knew that I would run into them sometime at a Queer/Trans event in Portland, yet this was our first encounter. I asked how they were doing. They said that they were having a very difficult time. On Wednesday, they were attacked and physically assaulted for being visibly queer while waiting at a bus stop in Portland. They were called epithets and were physically injured and have trauma from that experience. I heard them and I didn't know what to do except say kind and supportive words and I'm so glad they are okay. I felt horrified and scared for the many people who were attacked or assaulted the day after T**** was elected. It's beyond the beyond. People feeling fueled and empowered to act out in violent ways and to target members of the LGBTQ communities, People of Color, Immigrants, Women, etc. the list goes on. I thought of the book, The Stone Butch Blues and it felt like traveling back in time. Is this what it felt like during Stonewall or the 1950's? The feeling of safety that someone has to simply stand and wait at the bus stop was shattered for them since they were visibly queer.

Since Wednesday, November 9th, I haven't been feeling "SAFE" as an American in my own Country. I feel that American has a lot of potential. My Jewish Ancestors came here to escape from the persecution of pogroms and anti-semitism in Eastern Europe. My Mexican Great-Grandfather Duarte fled the Mexican Revolution and left his home in Michoacan as an 18 year old. Traveling north until he reached Fresno, California on his own. My German ancestors came here for a better life. So much persecution for simply being Jewish. Brown. Mexican. Immigrants.

America is the land of immigrants. How can this Country reconcile its past and how can we create unity in the present so that we can move forward in integrated and healthy ways as a nation?

It's up to each individual to discover who they truly are, most authentically. Then have the courage to BE one's most authentic self in this world. It's about taking personal responsibility for the internalized isms and phobias. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia. Do one's work around privilege or the lack thereof and become an Ally to all people.

We are all ONE.

I'm concerned about what life will be like under the T**** administration.

What I can do today is to get my papers in order and get that new passport ASAP and updated birth certificate. The future remains uncertain and the ground feels groundless.

May we continue to ground in these times of groundlessness and upheaval to the Earth even more so. We are on a spinning, magnificent, blue ball. Our thoughts matter. Our words matter. Black Lives Matter.

Your individual healing helps the collective healing process.

May you breathe. Root down for strength. Center yourself. Love yourself. More. Cultivate support. Reach out for support. Keep hydrated. Take one step at a time and do the best that you can.

You are enough.

We are all enough.

There is hope. Even if we are all in the dark at this time.

In light,