My Transgender Life: On Hallowed Ground

11/23/2016 08:21 pm ET Updated Nov 24, 2017
Hillary Clinton places her hand over her hand as she walks to the podium to address the Children's Defense Fund's Beat the Od
Hillary Clinton places her hand over her hand as she walks to the podium to address the Children's Defense Fund's Beat the Odds celebration at the Newseum in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

I was honored to be asked to speak on the Lexington Battle Green as the First Parish Church, with no transgender members decided to honor the Transgender Day of Remembrance . The Battle Green is known for the shot heard round the world where the American revolution began. It is hallowed, sacred ground.

I am sharing both what I said and the video of my talk.

Thank you Reverend Anne and Lisa Maria, and all of you for inviting me here on this solemn and important day, when we choose to honor the memory of those in the transgender community who have been taken away from us, for having the courage to live as their true selves.

I am honored to be standing here on the Lexington Battle Green, which I think we can all agree, is hallowed ground. I wanted to be sure what this means, so I looked it up and found that Hallowed means

Holy

Consecrated

Sacred

Revered

We are standing on the grass roots where the movement that became America began. This is where the fight for American freedom began and I am sure many of you have stood right here on many cold April mornings to watch or take part in our Patriot's Day re-enactments.

That was the fight for freedom, The fight against oppression. That was the fight that led to the founding of our country and the declaration that stated.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

And yet today we must remember those who were denied these rights; denied their liberty, their happiness and their lives..

We must ask WHY?

They were transgender, and they were singled out as different and less than others. I too am transgender, and I cry for those who have lost their freedom, their happiness and their lives, and I hope that you may share a tear with me in their memory.
...

Today is a day of Remembrance. Let me share some of my own memories.

I remember growing up as a young boy in Brooklyn New York
I remember hiding my truth

I remember as a young man, in 1969, moving to Massachusetts
I remember hiding my truth

I remember being newly married in 1977 and moving to Lexington.
I remember hiding my truth

I remember raising my 3 children here, with great schools and coaching them in many town sports
I remember hiding my truth

I remember in 2010 coming to acceptance of my truth as being transgender and transitioning in 2011
I remember when I stopped hiding my truth.

I remember then becoming the "Other!"

....

When I wrote my book, I had a chance to ask my youngest son and his wife what, if anything he lost when I transitioned. He thought, and slowly shared....that he lost the illusion that his father was always happy!. He then told me that he and his wife agreed that they would never live their own lives in anyway that does not make them happy. No one should be living a life that does not make them happy!

I am one of the lucky ones, the blessed ones, in that I have lost no one in my family when I transitioned to live as my true self. Again my son stated that he could never understand how a parent could ever abandon a child or a child could abandon a parent for them just being true to themselves. I too cannot understand it but it happens all too often in my community.

...

The statistics and surveys say that only 9 percent of Americans say they know someone who is transgender. To far too many, we are the other and there is ongoing discrimination against us. There are those that hide behind their view of religious freedom to discriminate against us. I just don't understand this. To me, religious freedom means Live and Let Live. If you do not agree with this, perhaps you really do not believe in either religion or in freedom!

There are those right here in Massachusetts that want you to cast a vote to deny freedom to people like me! I ask you, I beseech you, and I beg you to never ever let that happen.

We are standing on this sacred land where our freedoms began and I believe once again we all must make a stand that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

For those of you who do not know who we transgender people are, please help me share with you. We really are not much different that you. We want to love and be loved. We want to belong to groups and be accepted as a valued member of the many communities we are part of.

If you do not know us, perhaps I can help you learn....

Help me responsively - when I raise my hand join me in WHO WE ARE?

Who We Are:
We are your mothers, your fathers and your children.

Who We Are:
We are your aunts and uncles, and nieces and nephews.

Who We Are:
We are your grandparents and your grandchildren.

Who We Are:
We are your teachers and your students.

Who We Are:
We are your doctors, and your lawyers and your pilots.

Who We Are:
We are your soldiers, and your sailors.

Who We Are:
We are your neighbors, your shopkeepers.

Who We Are:
We are your friends

I hope that you will be our friends and have our backs if anyone tries to oppress us or tries to discriminate against us, or deny our pursuit of happiness, of liberty or of our lives, our lives of living our truth.

There is a quote that I often repeat that goes:

Every moment is a fork in the road.
The path you take will shape your future.
Choose love over fear

Today, in our country, the voices of fear and discrimination have become brazen in speaking and actions in many non-loving ways. Many people are scared and seeking signs of hope

I, for one, do not ever want to give up hope - but if we are divided, it is that much harder to hold on to it.

Here, on this hallowed, holy, sacred ground, I believe with all my heart that solidarity will keep our hope of freedom for all alive, as we all know that Love conquers Fear.

Love Yourself, Live Your Truth, & Love Each Other.

....

Now please join us as we remember those whose lives have been stolen from us all.

...

Grace Anne Stevens inspires people to find their truth and live their authentic life! She is the author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, and Musings on Living Authentically. Grace is available for speaking to all groups who would like to learn the values of, and how to live authentically. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .

Grace has been selected as an Amtrak Residency writer for 2016, and will be traveling around the USA in the spring of 2017 while sharing her experiences on the rails