The male-to-female transformation is one that begins very early for most transgender people, with a feeling in the heart and the soul. The common thread I have found among most male-to-female transgender people is that they felt different ("I am in the wrong gender") from their very earliest memories. From my earliest memories, I remember my heart and soul beating to a different drummer and feeling that I was a different bird. "Heart of a woman" adequately describes what transgender women experience internally and the emotions and feelings that go along with that experience. It is such a natural transistion once the individual decides to walk this difficult journey. I applaud Matrix co-director Lana Wachowski for being true to herself no matter the obstacles. The difficulty comes in accepting the call of gender identity and being honest to oneself. The biggest obstacle is finally making that transistion and telling the public (family, friends, coworkers) the decision to change genders.
Having been raised in the Deep South in a Christian tradition, I am very aware of the teachings of the Bible and the strict values that are taught as being necessary for good Christians to uphold. I have studied the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, and consider it a source of encouragement and guidance. But I am so amazed by the major controversy over comments made by Chick-fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy regarding his stance on gay marriage. First and foremost, Mr. Cathy has a constitutional right to believe what he wants, and to state his beliefs. His beliefs do not have to coincide with mine, but as a business owner, I am baffled that a businessman would speak for his whole company, which is made up of individuals of various belief systems, sexual orientations, and gender identities.
In a July 19 blog for the Washington Post, Gregory Thomas writes:
[A]ccording to an interview published Monday in the Baptist Press ... Cathy says his Atlanta-based company is "very much supporting of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit."
Cathy also said on Ken Coleman's radio show in June that people advocating for same-sex marriage are "inviting God's judgment on our nation."
"As it relates to society in general I think we're inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake out fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'" Cathy said. "And I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about."
As humans on the planet, and as people, we should always seek love and acceptance of one another. I respect Christian beliefs, but there is seldom respect for my beliefs. Must we all believe the same thing and do the same thing to be accepted and loved? There is not enough room for difference and individuality. I am an individual first, with my own beliefs and thoughts, and should be accepted for my originality. It baffles me how so many claim to speak for God and spread hate and discord under the banner of Christianity. God is love, and the best description of love that I have found is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Tolerance and acceptance are what we need as a country and as people on this Earth. I have lived on this Earth as an African-American male, as a gay African-American male, and as a transgender African-American woman, and I am happiest now, with my heart full of love -- my heart of a woman.
Let's all love one another and treat each other with love, as God has instructed us all to do while living on this Earth.
My memoir, I Rise, has been adapted by British director Keith Holland and writer Alton Demore into a feature film called Heart of a Woman, with actors Elisabeth Rohm, Rachel Sterling, Daniel Sobieray, Angelica Ross, Aerin O'Connell, and Leslie Jones. For more information, visit heartofawomanmovie.com.
Follow Toni Newman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/tonidnewman