The Introduction

Bretta

Just ahead of the menacing storm I slipped into the building where we were gathering, choosing the seat closest to where our guest would speak. Minutes later the large conference room was full of my colleagues, many I had never met. We had been invited to a Question & Answer Forum with our District’s US Congressional Representative, who had arranged to visit our campus. We are a venerable aerospace company dating back to the dawn of aviation, and we seemed to be a perennial favorite with this politician. Still, we would have mere minutes with each other…

…A quick introduction, then questions were taken; then after a few answers and some gentle jabs at certain other politicians, it seemed clear to me where this representative’s loyalties lay…

…We all listened intently — me, as-if I was prepping for an exam. A foggy sense of “opportunity” had formed in my heart when I was recently invited…and dared to RSVP. Now my thoughts were taking shape, and I could feel the butterflies fluttering inside me, and my ego whined “but what if I fumble over my words???” Sigh: I am well beyond the fear of sounding foolish, but not beyond my wish to be cogent, relevant, and (especially) considerate of others…

…Two questions, three, four…I was patient and pleasantly attentive. Should I speak – should I? Time was almost gone. AND what I had was not really a question; what I had was an opportunity to sow a seed!

Last question answered……a pregnant pause……almost unseen, I raised my hand, and our eyes locked as he turned back around toward me: “Yes ma’am!?” Gently but firmly enough be heard throughout the room, I spoke: “It seems you will be leaving immediately and will not have time for personal moments with us. May I say what I would otherwise have said in private?” “Of course,” he beckoned.

“Sir, we all know how public discourse has become very strained in recent years……” Looking up into his eyes, I continued as speaking with a new acquaintance: “Society will not protect those whom it does not value.” Pause. “And it will not value those that it does not know.” Pause. “May I please introduce myself: I am Renée Blatchley, one of your constitutes, and I am a transgender woman.” Pause. “I am one of a number of other transgender people who are part of this [company] family, and we have been blessed to work here with people who respect our human dignity. We look forward to when our state and federal government can treat us as well as our company family does!” Pause. “Thank You for being our representative, and thank you for sharing your time with us today…Blessings!!”

Then he thanked me and encouraged me (and others in my community) to contact him further. And with final thanks from our CEO, our meeting concluded…

…In my next moment of awareness, an exuberant Congressional aide, who had already made his way to the front, was pressing his official business card into my hand; he reiterated the invitation I had just received. With pleasant but quizzical gratitude, I accepted his card: “Thank you so much!

Moments later, gathering my belongings, amazed that I had expressed exactly what had wordlessly formed in my heart, I suddenly realized I was alone with our VP of Human Resources. (It seems we are always meeting at things like this, and we already knew the measure of each other!) His look said “you’ve got brass ones!” Sweetly I looked back at him thinking “not anymore!” “Why didn’t you ask him about the LGBTQ Equality legislation that passed the House? You know he was on that committee” he said. I replied that my intent was to foster a few moments of shared vulnerability, to help him recognize that he represents transgender people also, and to begin a friendly relationship with him. With sadness I added: “we have seen many amazing gains made through activism and the courts, but we trans folk lacked a foundation of personal relationships; therefore many of these gains have been swept-away, because we are not valued; because we are not really known as humans to people who only see us as caricatures.” And he suddenly understood, commending my approach.

Transgender visibility is even more important in this increasingly hostile political climate. Most people still have never knowingly met a transgender person; fewer have a transgender friend or acquaintance. I feel “called” to be candid about my status: so when people come to know me (beyond anonymous encounters), the fact that I am a transgender woman becomes apparent in relaxed, natural and even winsome ways. I want everyone I meet to have a positive interaction with a transgender person; I want people to know that we are pretty much like everyone else.

We are ALL human beings FIRST; everything else, second, third, fourth…

Love, Blessings & Joy Dear Friends!!

#WhatTransLooksLike #VulnerabilityAsStrength

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6 thoughts on “The Introduction

  1. Love this! Yes, well done – a very wise and considered approach! (My favourite bit is “Yes, ma’am!?” – thinking of the times past spent hoping for that recognition as a favour, and now it’s granted for free – a gift given unawares by someone who needs to learn!)
    A couple of tiny prrof-reeding corrections [it wouldn’t be me otherwise, would it?] – I think “he caught my eye” means you saw him, so you probably meant “I caught his eye” – as in, he noticed you.
    “*they* lacked a foundation of personal relationships”

    • *Thank You Janet* 🙆

      As always, your corrections & suggestions are welcome! I have added yours to several other corrections and slight revisions I already made: you know I do my best prood-reefing after I hit “Send.” 😌

      Aside1: Inexplicably, our local grocer stocked (Aussie!) TimTams (original flavour) – We are enjoying them in spirit with you and Andrew! I raved enough about them to the grocery staff that maybe they will keep stocking them 😏

      Aside2: I’ve accepted the past with OUR responsibilities; learning that “surrender” to what was and is, is really just a more *extravagant* version of “abandonment” (the practice that you witnessed me apply successfully to so much of my “stuff” as I was solidifying my female ego). “Abandon” was for “spot-treatments,” but “Surrender” is a way of living, helping me to detach from expectations, desires, outcomes, etc., helping me to BE more Present, allowing ALL to be OKAY. 💜💙💚

      In Spirit with MUCH Love, Blessings & (the) Joy (of Being)!! 😊❤
      Bretta

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