Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's Personal

Some of the things that Charleston is known for are scenery, history, climate, and a unique Low Country culture.  Any list of allures, however, would be incomplete if it didn't include food.

Charleston is fortunate to have a significant number of wonderful restaurants.  From local delicacies seafood delicacies like flounder or shrimp right off the boat to she-crab soup, to grits - the cuisine here ranges from fairly simple to very fou-fou and elegant.  I'm only a little embarrassed to admit that one of my weekly "habits" is half-price burger night at one of the local pubs.

The reason I mention this here is that we're in the middle of something called "Charleston Restaurant Week".  It's actually more than a week - it's 11 days - and it's a city wide opportunity to sample the broad range of eateries that the area has to offer.  Participating restaurants include several of the higher end places who prepare special menus of 3-course meals for $20, $30, or $40.  Given my budget and my diet I have done an excellent job of avoiding these temptations, but tonight I am meeting a friend at one local place I particularly like.  I've got reservations at another over the weekend, and may try to squeeze in a 3rd.  What can I say - I'm only human.....

In some ways today feels like the last day of summer here.  It's supposed to get to 90 degrees, but the Jet Stream is apparently going to dip down and send some much cooler, unsettled air our way for the next week or more.  It'll struggle to get out of the 70's and parts of it may be wet.  I'm still planning to do my usual long bike-ride, and I'm hoping to be able to spend some time in the kayak, but it's the first weekend in a long time that I've had to plan around potential weather considerations.

Dr. Jillian Weiss posted an article on Bilerico recently to comment about a recent reminder that Don't Ask Don't Tell doesn't apply to trans men and women in the military, and is still grounds for discharge (read it here).  As with most things, the words of what that really means doesn't begin to communicate the real-life implications of what that means.

One of the reasons that I stay actively involved in trans rights and trans visibility is that it isn't just a cause.  It's not an "identity" either.  It's personal.  When you've gone to vigils for young trans-people who have been brutally murdered and met their families it's not something abstract, it's real and tangible and emotional.  When you're trying to console someone who has just been outed and lost their job, been kicked out of their house, and is absolutely terrified it's not simply sitting safely behind a keyboard and armchair-quarterbacking from the sidelines.  It's personal, because we've been there too.  And when it comes to serving in the military, my own personal experience with a friend who served openly as trans ended in suicide because of the pressures involved.

Nobody wants to become a martyr.  And MJ's tragic story is only known to a handful of us.  But the fact of the matter is that the US Army had an amazing field nurse who was bright and full of life, but that's all gone now.  MJ served in Iraq, was buried with full military honors, and whose memory serves as a vivid reminder of the life and death struggle that many of us face each and every day.  But even in death, the only reminder of MJ's authentic self is in those of us who knew.

MJ had been rejected by family as a teen.  MJ loved photography, and was hoping to publish two books.  MJ found passion in nursing.  And one of the last emails MJ sent to a small group of friends from time to time ended with, "In all seriousness to everyone; please take care and enjoy life."  Hey MJ - I'm doing my best.

I wrote in my last post that the world can still be a brutal place, and Lord knows it can.  That's why it's important to re-energize when we can, to enjoy the simple pleasures that come our way, and to actually like ourselves when we go to bed each night. But things in our lives can provide vivid reminders of why we're here.  I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm very clear on that for me.  Why?  Because it's more than words.  It's real, and it has a face, and it's personal.


sweetbrandigirl2004 said...

Donna while I get your point. There is discrimination in the world and for many different reasons thats a sad thing. Gender Identity is but one reason and IMO whether your active or not thats not likely to change in our lifetime. There has always been discrimination since the beginning of time and there always will be. If you choose to fight the endless tide and that gives you some sense of satisfaction then more power to you others of us have far better things to do with the time we've been given on this earth after waiting for years and years to be our true selfs. Most just want to move passed transition and back to a normal life I'm one of them.

Sophie Lynne said...

I respect you wanting a normal life. Your point about ending discrimination? Well that depends upon us, doesn't it?

Let's look: In 1960, a black person couldn't eat in certain places. Couldn't vote in some places. Back of the bus with you! Now its 2011. We have an African American president. Why? Because people fought for it. those changes happened within a lifetime.

Our struggle is different, yes. But I'd like to think that we CAN win this within my lifetime. It's my hope. Without it, I have nothing. Becuae not all of us CAN assimilate easily (due to appearence, whatever) and always WILL have to fight.

People are dying. And the dead need a voice. As do the living. 2 voices are better than one. 100 trumps 2. 1000? You get the idea.

Peace to you and yours