Content advisory: this post discusses experiences and examples of medical spaces being uncomfortable/unsafe for people who identify as transgender, genderqueer, nonbinary, or another related identity.
I made this a blog post after publishing it on my personal facebook page and several people commented that they had no idea these experiences existed. I realized it should reach a wider audience. I’ve posted it below without editing except to emphasize certain words and I’ve also added some links for further education.
I’m pretty sure you are aware of the pinkified, radically femme and feminized culture of breast health issues, breast cancer, and the typically-broadcast stereotype that only cisgender women experience them.
I’m pretty sure you all are also aware that all genders and body types can have breast medical issues despite the above-mentioned stereotype.
But I think many people aren’t aware of what it can feel like to be in a medical space intentionally geared towards women’s breast care if you are a nonbinary, genderqueer, or transgender (and other identities) person. Or a cisgender man.
We say it would never happen here. It could never happen to me.
But it did happen. It happened to us. It happens every day, on street corners, in homes, at workplaces, on Facebook. Hatred isn’t always seen. Homophobia isn’t always obvious. But they’re always intrusive and divisive.
We on the receiving end are accustomed to being wary of holding hands or kissing in public because we know someone could be watching and choose to target us. Fear builds. And builds. And builds until we hide our identities, even from ourselves, when we leave the safety of our homes or keyboards. Some of us can’t hide (or pass) because we look too masculine to be a woman, too feminine to be a man, too gay to be straight – too much “them” to be “us.”
Queer love and existence has always been more private out of necessity and out of fear. We are keenly aware and constantly reminded that there are people who hate us for who we love or how we identify. It could be anyone, so we tread lightly in public, many of us. And now we are pushed even further back into our homes, our bedrooms, our closets…because maybe these are the places we’ll be safe. The only places we can be safe, maybe.
+I’m on the school bus sitting behind an older girl. She is playing with her hair and I stare at her, intrigued. She turns around and says, “What are you staring at, white girl?” I blush deep red and look away, unsure what I did wrong.
+I still wear my brother’s hand-me-downs. I’m comfortable wearing shorts that reach my knees, jeans with holes in the knees, and shirts multiple sizes too large for me. But I begin to feel self-conscious because the other girls and some of the boys bully me. I am pressured to start dressing more like a girl and I begin to wear tighter jeans and shorter shorts.
+A new boy moves to town and he becomes my boyfriend. We kiss behind a building during a school field trip. We ride bicycles and play soccer together.
Why I am sticking with a church the Anglican Communion is afraid of:
I can be who I am, openly, and expect full inclusion in the life of the church – that means female or male or trans*, gay or straight or queer, black or white or tan, democrat or republican or libertarian, old or young or middle-aged, famous or not, etc.
I can be ordained as a deacon, priest, bishop, or presiding bishop as a female. And I can be ordained and have a husband or wife. And sex. And children.
I know I can find comfort in the liturgy at any Episcopal service I attend. It’s the same every week. I can follow the service in any language and know what’s being said. It’s predictable. Did someone say BCP?
We are adaptive to the changes of the modern world and take prayerful action to be part of today, not yesterday. We are constantly considering the scriptures as they relate to the world today so we can remain relevant.
We allow room for embracing beliefs and practices of different religions and cultures. My faith is stronger because of this. The Episcopal Church does not close its doors or punish and condemn its members for appreciating a range of beliefs and ideas. In fact, I think one of our strengths is our collaborative spirit.
I’m encouraged to question anything, knowing that chances are I’ll then be able to engage in a loving, powerful conversation where both I and my priest/friend/bishop/committee will learn more about our own faith journeys.
Our governing structure is largely democratic. Lay people’s votes carry the same weight as those by clergy, with one exception for bishops – but all political changes are debated and voted on by many committees as well as by both laypeople/clergy and bishops before becoming church law.
We don’t operate as a church that requires a middle-person between people and God. We don’t like hierarchy in that way. We trust people to have an open relationship with and to be able to communicate freely with God without an intermediary.
We’re a missionary church in everything we do, by definition and official corporate title. And our job is not to convert people to think like us – that’s not our interpretation of being evangelists. We show the love of Jesus with no strings attached because that’s what the gospel is. That’s what we are called to do – love.
We really know how to hug. Have you hugged an Episcopalian today?
With Rev. Megan Anderson and the Very Rev. Brian Baker
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