Our internal understanding contra gender
- Publication date
Our internal understanding contra gender: Our internal understanding of our gender or gender expression which you witnessed with diane how we choose to dress name ourselves walking talk as an expression of our gender will that language is continuing to evolve.
- 2022-06-08 09:36:07
- Internet Archive Python library 3.0.1
- Welcome to sunday sermons and other recordings from the unitarian universalist church of davis california please visit our website at w.w. org for further information. So i'm the senior minister serving this congregation and ben bazer joins me as i worship associate. You are welcome, and we invite you to go out of the welcome table and marty west has been out there at that table and can answer all of your questions about the meaning of life as well as about this service it's true. No matter what path is brought you through these doors welcome. We gather as people of diverse beliefs. We represent different political views. We are people. Of a diversity of sexual orientations and gender identity gay straight bisexual genderqueer gender-fluid transgender. We're all welcome here. Are ethnic and cultural roots come from the four directions of the slitheen. Together we will celebrate the abundance that surrounds us questions and mysteries of life urine for what could be and come to know the power that we have to make our dreams real. Please join with me for a moment of prayer. Recognizing the terrorism indy route. Lebanon. And in paris. Where does it hurt. It hurts everywhere. Help us return to love. In spite of hate. Maybe turn to trust. Instead of fear. Turn to each other. People of all faiths and none. In spite of intolerance. Tell custom turn to our neighbors in need. To turn our care to those who are vulnerable near us. Turn our spirits to the grieving the injured the traumatized. Instead of anger. Help us return. To the recovery. And to our work of becoming a world of justice. And compassion. Turn us. Guide our feet. And hands. Bring us peace. Praying. I got you another silence. Today lighting are chalice is ryder henderson. They're new to you you and i've been attending this church since january. This is their first time lighting the chalice. Dave extensive experience working with trans youth. And it worked for the last six years in a can. Fortrans and gender-variant youth. Would you hear more about in the reflection later in the service. Coming like the shallows writer. Today's opening words. Are by alanda. Granola. Tear. Find a house of welcoming. Dear. Find vision and hope. Here. Be received as you truly are unique and beautiful. Your journey acknowledge. Your love honored. Let us rejoice together. I've always felt mail. Growing up i hung out with the boys. I was boys in the games i liked i like blowing stuff up and video games. Well i had a strong perception of male and female. I didn't really give much thought to gender much less its fluidity. Until i came to college. Being open and do you. I quickly found myself friends with people for whom gender with something they thought about often. Times like trans queer and gender binary entered my vocabulary. It took a while to wrap my head around it. But after knowing the people it's sort of just made sense. Being homosexual bisexual pansexual gender-nonconforming. Was a normal. Or at least not a big deal. In fact except crowds i may feel sheepish about being heterosexual cisgender male. Some might say a typical guy. Because it seems almost. Boring. The paradigm shift for me was in the discussion of gender roles being just that. Rolls. The way an actor can ship characters as necessary. One actor may be suited to some roles more than others or may enjoy some rolls more than others. In our lives we play many roles. I often play the roles that son. Brother. Boyfriends friends engineer jiu-jitsu white belt or worship associate. And you said these situations i can show up differently. For me it's most comfortable and traditional to show up as a man. To live that roll. Often enjoyed playing that role as well. I'm strongly drawn to things that to me seem traditional email. I'm scheduled to go duck hunting and just yesterday i competed in a martial arts tournament. Play in the traditional male role however can cause me to do some foolish things. Most people i know have more sense than to work out until they throw up. Boy to scream their back lifting 300lb a weird sense of pride and being that bullish. For me. Traditional male that playing that role challenges me to be strong. Incapable but all that doesn't mean i haven't stretch my comfort zone. While i grew up feeling it acting male. I wasn't in the macho by any stretch. I wasn't so attached to my mail image. That it couldn't explore the boundaries. There's one time that sticks out of my memory. My friends and i were going to a late-night performance of. The rocky horror picture show. For those of you familiar. Doesn't make sense for those of you that aren't. It is essentially an immersion into gender fluidity. And it isn't unusual to see the audience members wearing corsets or other similarly revealing clothing. And so i was faced with a dilemma. Of what to wear. Should i wear my normal uniform. Jacket t-shirt and jeans. Or. Tight leather pants and fishnet top. My friends clearly had a preference. And their choice was admittedly outside of my comfort zone. And while these things when explicitly stated i grew up with the impression. That straight men dinnerware tight leather and fishnet. But i still shows the leather. I look different for the night. And that was all. It was fun. Afterwards it seems silly to be nervous. Within their identity. And comfort zone you can be easily put off balance. Leather pants no thanks. As i push my comfort zone i felt more grounded with my identity. I can wear leather pants. Paradoxically. As i feel more comfortable living with the role of male i grew up with. And enjoying trying to embody the virtues of it. I've become more comfortable with going beyond the boundaries of that role. I am rider. And i proudly identify as queer. Genderqueer and transmasculine. I know these are not the words too many people. There once well beyond my realm of understanding as well. Much less self identifiers that i would have used. I grew up in texas. And in that environment there is no lens. Or language or role models. To show me that there was anything other than men and women and boys and girls. And i didn't even know that the word straight existed. Because there were no other options. When i moved for high school. A new friend invited me to a gsa meeting. Which i now know stands for gay straight alliance. At the time i confused it with a club i'd known in texas. The jsa that was junior statesmanship something-or-other. So i replied. I'm not really into the big clubs. He was taken aback. And said it's not really a debate. And somehow convinced me to come anyways without telling me what it was. So. I'm 15 and show up in a crowded room and right off the bat students went around and said their name and sexuality. Something brand-new to me. At the time i had no idea what straight. Gay. Lesbian by. Or queer men's. Municipal came to panic little me. I just said i don't know. Growing up with limited gender and sexuality options that i did not fit into. I always struggle to imagine. Any kind of future for myself. As i gained more knowledge and met people have different experiences. The obstacles became more manageable. Many years later and graduate school. I learned about a camp that was about to open for trans and delivering use. This was particularly exciting. Because camp had been one of the happier memories from my childhood. I have fond memories. Avene extremely independent wild n dirty. Well living off of cornbread and fruit punch for many weeks. A new date. Is at its core a summer camp. We have traditional activities like sports arts and crafts and swimming. In a space where trans used. Can feel comfortable with their bodies experiences. And identities. So they can just be kids. What conversations are often confusing as many names and pronouns change from day-to-day and moment-to-moment. And attendance sheets are out of date as soon as they are printed. We respect our campers for who they are in the moment. And embrace their fluidity. Above and beyond. The awesomeness that is any camp. Our campers gets meat used like themselves. Questioning. Transitioning. Or have transitioned. As well as trans adult role models living full and happy lives and sis adults who volunteer at camp. Just to support our youth. Over the past 6 years. My little nonprofit camp. Has grown from a one-week session with about 40 campers. To owning a property and having seven sessions. With nearly 400 trans engineering youth. Not only over the summer but throughout the entire year. We are a network of community and support for one another. Before i begin the sermon i wanted to mention to fashion statement that i neglected to say and diane wanted to let you know that her tie is a donald trump tie from his own company so there was a particularly interesting moment in her. Back-end changes. In another land. When i was in my twenties. Before i entered the ministry. I would attend weekend contra dances. Country dancing has elements of early american line dancing but add in western swing. And carefully timed appalachian clogging for percussion. It's pretty energetic stuff. Across the country there is a unique etiquette of inclusivity at contredanses always invite the novice and the newcomer to dance. Every person who is your partner as if that person is the most important the most fascinating human being in the whole world. You look at them as if you are it. There are those who dance for the sheer speed of the moves but the best dancers. Very best dancers. Are those who strive to be the best partners. The etiquette of contra dancing laid the groundwork for a meaningful experience i had last spring at the mendocino dance camp and this was yes a part of the sabbatical. Without realizing it i signed up for what amounts to an annual reunions i have no idea everyone greeted each other as if they were longtime friends because i think they actually were. It was unbelievable the dances rescheduled and dance halls from 9 in the morning till 11 p.m. at night and i thought this is amazing. But the music and the dances weren't what made the weekend memorable. For the moment i signed in at registration i knew that this dancing festival was going to be different. From my young adult weekends in that far-away land of idaho. There were dancing clothes for sale and at the rag of wide was dancing skirts you know the ones that are kind of fluffy there was many men selecting skirts as women. Other racks with cotton shirts and assorted ties were admired by women and i thought okay this is fine this is really fine and it was fine. I think i live what's written on the unitarian universalist website. We not only open our doors to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. We value diversity of sexuality and gender and see it as a spiritual gift. We're not talking about a reluctant acceptance of those who identify as gender variant. Counter to the message often found in our society we are asked to dignify everyone. Biting each person's sexual orientation gender identity and expression as a spiritual gift. Almost at the moment i was slipping on my dancing shoes noah mills member of our senior high youth group. With addressing this congregation. And noah said. Genders are the constellations and we are all stars. They are all shifting and nebulous and theoretically infinite she gave me permission to share that with you again today. Noah's poetic expression of the fluidity of gender is what i witness among many used in today's culture. Diversity in sexual orientation and gender variances documented throughout history and across cultures. But starting recently in the 1960s when traditional roles for men and women were questioned boundaries have continued to be challenged. And now his words offer a beautiful synopsis of today's exploration of identity. In this congregation some of us are learning if we live is good unitarian universalist that's most of us learning all the time. Those within the transgender community are learning to. I called my transgender friends and asked for the most up-to-date language after all i want to get it just right. Because i'm speaking to you in a sermon. But they sent me to the uga website. The language is always changing and we can't keep up. One person explained so it's really good to know that our website is where to go. Some people in this room have come to hear their story affirmed. Interfaith community and i hope that you find that here today. There will be those among us who know that they shouldn't be uncomfortable if not politically correct. And yet the many dimensions of sexual orientation and gender identity they just may seem beyond comprehension. I asked what your stay is open as you can. And i hope that you'll keep at it. And finally there are those here who are afraid of what they feel within themselves. Afraid because they do not feel what society says is normal. You are in a safe place. And you are especially. Welcome here. Go back to the dance where the lesson of the service is found in this is really about the dance you know. Slipping on my shoes and adjusting my skirt i was right. The etiquette of contra dancing did mean i was dancing from that very first song. The dances were really intricate and i got lost easily. And finally in one really complicated dance i thought. Think i've got it. Turn and spin slide to the new partner turn and spin your partner and my partner took my hand for the next turn and spin and over the music. He said. Want to switch genders. Oh lord i thought. We're both wearing skirts and that was fine. But now you want both of us to change our genders to. Well there is a nanosecond before the next dance move there's not much time and my brain was processing all i've learned and unitarian-universalism about sexual orientation gender identity and i'm thinking. The contemporary meaning for transgender is an umbrella for all those who do not accept the dominant conceptions of gender. Well maybe my brain didn't turn exactly to aua curriculum however there was this moment when my thoughts are racing. And i'm thinking. But that's a serious decision and i'm not sure what it means in this dance and i just figured out how to do my part and i don't think i can learn another way of being right now. But i said. Sure. But you'll have to lead me through it. You'll have to leave me through it. A couple of dance repetitions i take the role of following and then my partner would say trench. And i bleed for a few sets. A back-and-forth the other dancers will they would look it up kind of questioningly and we give a quick gesture. Pointing to ourselves we'd. Or follow. And my brain i swear tangled with exertion. I know my partner was waiting for me to initiate the time of a switch. But it was all i could do to keep up. Couldn't. Initiate. If you're listening to this story and thinking that being a man or a woman is becoming more complicated. You are right. Language describing sexual orientation who we are attracted to. Gender identity. Our internal understanding of our gender or gender expression which you witnessed with diane how we choose to dress name ourselves walking talk as an expression of our gender will that language is continuing to evolve. The language identifying these aspects of identity mirror our emerging understanding of the possibilities as a society. The language and our awareness. Mirror each other. But in the riddle of gender science and activism and transgender rights. The author deborah ratustele says that language is too limited and it is too blunt. Gender means kind or genre. Let me look at someone and wonder. What gender. Are you. The question goes beyond idle curiosity are you a boy or are you a girl we're really asking something personal a very intimate question. We're asking what kind of person are you. We're inquiring about the fundamental nature of someone something that can only truly be discovered after meaningful and lengthy experiences with another person and then only revealed rightfully by someone willing willingness to show their authentic self. Deborah right about one particular orisha a god of that yoruba religion of nigeria worshiping orishas came to the west through the slave trade. The name of this god being is translated as the destroyer of pattern through whom the shape of a cosmos is revealed. Deborah rights that those who identify in ways that are not traditional. Are serving to free everyone. Our bodies and our minds are given the gift of the existence of more than two options of. Male or female. The beauty and complexity of the universe is revealed through a new array of possibilities. Destroying the patterns that form our reality can be disorienting and they can be frightening but today as you heard we are not alone. Our society has safe places to question and discover. And the freedom of expression and exploration can be a source of great creativity and pleasure. And this opportunity can happen many times in the course of one life. So when i spoke with some of our older transgender people. They told me be sure to let people know. This can happen. At any time. In someone's life. And the weekend progressed back in the dance camp i had many opportunities to have an orisha god reshape my universe. Blisters were rising on the soles of my feet but now i was the one inviting those who sat on the sidelines to dance. Strings of twinkling lights made the room glow against the dark knight the smell of redwoods came on the breeze through the open windows. One band of musicians replaced another it was really kind of cruel because no matter how tired that dancers became the music remains lively. Suddenly i found myself faced. With a person who appeared. Female. But was presenting as male. And i stopped. I thought i was past being confused by anyone. But in this moment. I couldn't figure out if this person was leading or following. And the music didn't stop for anyone's moment of doubt. It was only a second to decide and so i slid my hand around my new partners waze assuming i was the person following and we both stopped. I'm a girl she explaining exasperation. So am i i said with equal frustration. And i thought how the heck am i supposed to know. The only way i could know. But by calculating the position on the dance floor. And i had miscalculated i had miscounted. It is messi. And we will invariably get caught in our assumption. I will make mistakes again and i found that i had done so in this tournament but. Here it is. In my senior year in college christine jorgensen spoke in the largest lecture hall on our campus. 1953 christine became one of the most famous people in the world when she transitioned surgically from male to female. Her surgery was performed in denmark and she plan to return to the states and lou quietly as a woman. Her parents completely accepted her in. In love. If someone in the family sold her story to the press. And she was forced to live in the spotlight. Still remember being impressed by her courage. She told her story of isolation and loneliness as she came to understand that she was in the wrong body. She talked about the heartache of wanting to belong when i get to be right. She was open about her decision to pursue surgery. And what her life was like as a result. I heard her speak decades later. Why was she on the speaker circuit when she could have slowly slowly moved into the life of obscurity that she desired and i recently discovered the answer. She hopes that by telling her story is freshly on campuses. She would help others who also felt trapped by the society's construct of gender. She received thousands of letters and most were from people who are grateful that they are not alone. She used her public profile to reach as many people as possible to show others that they could have a life of happiness. And i wondered if she ever imagined the open questioning that happens today. People of all ages and certainly use allow themselves the freedom to question their sexual orientation and their gender identity. The very end of the dance. The mendocino camp i packed the car. I took off my black leather shoes. Inspecting my battered and tender feet. With their usual swirling energy my favorite dance partners who had been eyeing my batik skirt for the full weekend. Swirled into position on either side of me. You got to come this afternoon to the dance in san francisco and tomorrow's dances in palo alto it's awesome band. Just awesome. I've been accepted into a community of dancers that was as fluid as their. In their identity as they were in their damn steps. They destroyed expected patterns and through the unfolding of live the shape of the cosmos continues to be revealed. And so it goes. It continues. To be revealed. And to that i say. Amen. Invite you into a time of prayer. Kind of medication when you. Let go of what it is that you have carried. This week. We will be singing all shall be well as i end. Before i move into our prayer i will say that. One person left a milestone saying that this is the second anniversary of. Sister and brother-in-law's suicide. Candle has been lit. In the hope. Celebrating her sister and the life she chose. App astro prayer begins. With. Gerard hopkins poem. Pied beauty. Glory be to god for all dappled things. All things counter. Original & spare. Whatever is fickle. Freckled. Who knows how. The swift slow. Sweet sour. Devil. Dimly-lit. God brings for those whose beauty is past change. Blessed are those who change animerge throughout a lifetime. Who discover they express the soul in all the counter. Original stickle freckled ways available to us. Oh joy. Be not afraid. But amazed. Blessed are those who change and emerge throughout a lifetime to become more daring. To be who they really are swift or slow sweet sour adazzle or gentle lights glory be to the beauty of humanity in all of our forms. Each of us is a part of an intricate web of relationships when one of us celebrated julie agrees the lost the web of life moved to a new shape we are apart of the turn of the earth the shift of the stars the pool is a c and i'll change. And amen and amen. We touch the floor to remember that wherever we bring our best selves. Is holy ground. We reach for the sky to remember that we are apart of the mystery bigger than ourselves. We hold hands to remember that we need one another. And are part of one human family. We joined voices. To remember that we each have a gift to offer the world. And to use in making the world a better place. And let this gathering say amen maybe so.