Do you remember the old game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? You know, name any actor and try to connect in the fewest "hops" of what movie were they in with someone who ultimately was in a movie with Kevin Bacon.
The entire game was based on a concept called six degrees of separation, which posits that any two people on earth are fewer than six acquaintance links apart.
This made me think about the recent survey report that only about 8% of the population knows someone who is transgender. I know that my own personal world does not fairly represent the country as a whole, but when I go out to teach or speak I ask the question and often see 20-30% or more hands go up.
I do believe that knowing someone who is transgender goes a long way to acceptance and understanding - and for those that have been following some of my writing, you know that I think the acceptance can come first. So the questions started to swim around my mind that how far can the "separation" of acquaintance links be in order to foster and grow transgender acceptance.
If you know someone who is trans, have you ever been in a conversation with a friend, a co-worker, even a stranger in a line somewhere, where you got to say, "I know someone who is transgender and they are so courageous and happy being their true self!" Have you ever heard this from someone and repeated as " I know someone who knows someone who is transgender and....."
Once again, I will state that we are all unique, just like snowflakes! There is no one way, no right way to BE transgender. Just because you may know someone who is transgender that does not mean you know everyone who is transgender. There are trans people in the public. Some do great things, while some do not! Some are heroes while some are not. Some are highly visible and some hide themselves and their past, which all is fine. Almost all of them, all of us, have gone through an internal battle to understand and hopefully accept ourselves as best we possibly can. No two of us have taken the same path to live our truth. Each one of us has had the courage to move forward and possibly lose everything and everyone that is near and dear to us. Yes, each one of us reached this crossroad!
When you know someone you have met someone who has had an incredible challenge in his or her life and was incredibly brave enough to face their internal challenge in spite of not mapping to society's expectations. The more people you meet and get to know, you will realize that they are really not that much different than you, but perhaps their specific challenges are! Perhaps it is the millions of trans people that are facing their challenges can teach everyone to face their own and live their true life, what ever that may be.
Six degrees of separation does not seem so far away. Neither does even 2 degrees or 3 degrees of separation. It was reported that over 17 million people saw the Diane Sawyer/Jenner interview this past April. If each of those people told two people they know a trans person and then they told 2 people, there would be over 150 Million people at 2 degrees of separation. This may sound silly, but that is the power of the media and the way we see knowledge being spread.
Most of us, not just trans people, want to live our lives as our true selves. We need people in our life to accept us just as people who had a challenge that we did not ask for but have learned to deal with it. We are not crazy, impaired or doing anything wrong.
We are just trying to end our internal six degrees of separation, and bring together all those parts and aspects inside of us that have been internally battling for many years and bring them all together as the people we truly are.
I bet you are too!
Grace Stevens is a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a father of three, grandparent of two, athlete, advocate and author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her personal struggle to transition and live her true life authentically as a woman. Grace is available for speaking about authentic living with Living on-TRACK, and Gender Variance Education and Training. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .