Friday Philosophy: Judge not…

I’ve been having a slow conversation through Facebook with a friend from high school.  Hopefully she will show up here eventually.  But she’s a little busy training to be a Peace Corps volunteer, so we’ll se.

In one of her messages she wrote:

You have an original voice. I know that transgender issues are understandably important to you, but I also find your posts on other subjects to be fascinating. You write with passion and are able to reduce the macrocosm down to the infinitely human microcosm.

Also, everyone changes as they live their lives. Most of us don’t want to be judged, but if we are, we want to be judged by who we are now. As an old high school friend, I would like to see you address this type of issue in relationship to transgender politics.

I’ll try to do that tonight…with a little bit of other stuff mixed in.

No, I don’t want to be judged by who I was, though I am not ashamed of that person.  I led a fairly good life up until the point where I could not do it any longer.  But, my oh my, do I wish I had been able to live a life like Oak Reed or Andy Moreno.

Truth is that I was too afraid…afraid of what my classmates would have said or would have done.  I was not strong enough to face that.  So I waited…and slowly matured.  And I learned about who I was, slowly and surreptitiously, to be sure.  When I was much younger, this sort of information did not exist…or was so well hidden as to be virtually nonexistent.

And perhaps more than I should have, I’ve divorced myself from most of my friends I grew up with, under the assumption that it is just to hard for them to understand.  I mean, I did attend my 30th high school reunion in 1996, a couple of years after my surgery, but that really didn’t go so well, all in all.  A few people talked with me for a little bit, but it certainly wasn’t necessarily the people with whom I would have preferred to spend time (with a couple of exceptions).  Then again, most of them had no idea I’d had a sex change, so perhaps the space between us shouldn’t have been unexpected.

I shouldn’t judge them based on that encounter, if only for the fact that it was 14 years ago.  It may be somewhat ironic that as a teacher, it’s my job to judge, if not the students themselves, at the very least, the quality of their work.  I strive mightily to make sure it doesn’t go beyond that.  People shouldn’t be judged…as people…by how well they do in a mathematics class.

And the person a student is when he or she takes a class from me is not the same as the person they will eventually become.  These are, after all, young adults.

Who would want to be judged by who they were as a young adult…or a high school student…or a grade school student…or a child in preschool?

And for those of us who are transgender and/or transsexual, why should we be judged by how we were labeled when we were born?  How would you like that if it were you who were so judged?

As a transwoman I am not ashamed of the man I was until I was 44 years old…but I am not that person now.  I’d rather be measured by the woman I have been for the past 18 years.


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    • Robyn on October 9, 2010 at 00:02

    …if some of my friends from my past contacted me.  I know that I have moved so often and had so many upheavals in my life that that I haven’t done a good job at keeping in touch with those people.

    If I could afford it, I’d love to throw a gigantic retirement part when the time comes and have all those friends who helped me along the way be there.  Unfortunately, it is doubtful that will ever happen.


    Friends Along the Way

    I started out on this

     road all alone

       Fear and Pain

          my only companions

             I wondered if

               I would lose myself

                 The road seemed dark

                   and fraught with peril

                     Til I found I had

                       Friends along the way

                           As the road wound

                             through hard terrain

                               I sometimes doubted

                                 my ability to go on

                                   But I fought back

                                     the Fear

                                       and worked through

                                         the Pain

                                           with the help of my

                                             Friends along the way

                                                 As time passed by

                                                 the road ascended

                                             Obstacles less frequent

                                          but harder to pass

                                       And at times

                                     I needed the

                                   places of refuge

                                 respite and care

                               offered to me by

                             Friends along the way

                         I’ve come to the crest

                       of the mountain

                     I’ve climbed

                   As I look down below

                 I see all of the

               barriers crossed

             the challenges I met

           and the lessons I learned

         I will never forget those

       Friends along the way

    What lies over

    the top of the road

     There is no

       way of knowing

         But deep in my heart

           From the depths

             of my soul

               I know that I’ll have

                 The company of my

                   Friends from along the way

    –Robyn Elaine Serven

    –July, 1994

    All My Life's A Circle- Harry Chapin @ Yahoo! Video

    Also posted to WGLB.

  1. to understand that which we cannot relate to feeling.  But it’s when we put that failing on others that we truly do wrong.  When we cannot imagine that WE are, ourselves, limited in what we feel.

    I just cannot imagine not feeling at least comfortable in my own skin.  And gender is so much more than just the particulars of our dangly bits.  At the same time, other men just cannot imagine feeling a perception of beauty and evocativeness and finally arousal at the male form.  

    That we cannot imagine feeling a thing for ourselves, is just too often imputed by others to be hostile — “I cannot imagine feeling that way” is turned into “how could anyone feel that way?”  Or it’s turned into, “How terrible must that be for you!”  What an irony it is to me, that I, an atheist, perhaps accept more the idea that things turn out the way they are supposed to, that each of our respective journeys enrich all of our lives?

    What is hard for me, I will admit, is so many gay men and even occasionally women, realizing this at a basal level, and yet applying that very same hostile refusal to understand, to our transgendered brothers and sisters.

    I cannot judge you, Robyn — because I feel so acutely that judgement of myself — the missteps I’ve made, the people I’ve hurt, being a young man not knowing how to come to grips with my homosexuality, with no aid, from a hostile society.  What I’ve realized is, that, unless you forgive yourself, unless you accept yourself, no amount of acceptance or forgiveness or understanding from others will suffice.

    Ultimately, though, my acceptance of you is selfish.

    • Robyn on October 9, 2010 at 00:53

    …available in Orange.

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