I have never met anyone who is Transgender before. So, maybe I don't get out much, or maybe it's just that I...well, mostly don't get out much, but, a couple weekends ago our neighborhood church (not the one we attend, but one who has, notably, on more than one occasion taken the time to show that they care for our community) was having a multi-family garage sale. They invited members of the community to purchase tables, and brought several people into the church who perhaps wouldn't have thought to attend otherwise. Being that the garage sale was just at the end of our street, and really - who can turn down a good garage sale, we brought the kids for a look around.
One table caught their attention immediately. It was laden with light-sabres, star wars action figures and various other interesting toys and games. Now, having our "parenting" hats on, we looked at this as an opportunity to teach the kids a bit of fiscal responsibility. They had each been given some "pennies" and could make choices about what they might like to buy. This was when I noticed that the young lady at the table was transgender. Micah immediately reached for a light sabre (he had one at home, but a battle of light sabre's isn't a battle unless there is another light sabre). He asked the lady how much it was, and she told him, $5. He had only been given $3. Quietly Brad and I worked to explain to him that it was more money than he had. Immediately, even in understanding what Brad and I were trying to do, she asked Micah if he would take really good care of the light sabre. He assured her that he would, and she gave it to him for his $3.
I really appreciated what she did for Micah. After all, her Star Wars collection was extensive, and in pristine condition. She was obviously a collector, and could have demanded a price too high for a little boy to pay. (Brad and I made sure that she got the extra $2) But, as Olivia started to touch and look at all of the different figurines laid out in front of her, this lady didn't flinch or cringe or demand that I pull my four-year-old's hands off of her collection, instead she started to talk to me. Through our conversation I noticed that some interesting things that didn't happen.
She didn't ask if I was a Christian, or what I thought about Bruce Jenner. She didn't explain her surgeries or how they worked to me, nor did she demand any kind of recognition or respect. She didn't flaunt her lifestyle or push it in my face, she just talked. I learned very quickly that she is an avid, and passionate collector. That she knows more about Star Wars figurines than most people would understand in a lifetime, and that what she really wanted from this garage sale was the opportunity to connect with people, share some of her things that were very special to her, and send them to good homes. It was a nice conversation, and it made me realize a few things.
One of the best parts of my job is that I get to connect with students on a daily basis. But something I am learning, is that in each of my interactions there is a balance for these students between, a level-headed confidence about their new direction in life - Teaching. Yet, at the same time, even though they are University Students who have completed a first degree, I have found that they all want to be told, "You are important, you are doing a good job. Don't worry about your mistakes, keep pressing on. Everything is going to be ok." It was the same with this young lady from the garage sale. She wanted to know that she was important, and valued, and that the things she had to say were important and legitimate. It struck me that the things that this lady deals with every day by appearing so "different", were probably more heartbreaking than I could imagine. I don't know what it's like to feel like I don't fit in. I've always fit somewhere - and isn't it what we all want? To fit? To be loved and accepted as we are? As much as society purports to be welcoming to ALL people, we know that it is not. How can we expect to impact someone's life in a positive way, if we don't care about who they are, and take a risk to love them?
I think that in this one life, I want to be the kind of Christian, the kind of person who can look at people from all races, religions, places in life and truly love them. Because even in the darkness and depth of my own sin, Christ loved me. In the words of someone a lot smarter than me - Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see. 'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.