Over the Rainbow

We were having a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Just reading and listening to the family Spotify playlist. The beautiful Eva Cassidy’s version of Over the Rainbow came on.

I usually avoid listening to this song. The Judy Garland version meant so much to me as a child. It was my song of hope and I find myself getting upset when it plays now.

This time I thought I would see what happens. Has enough time past?

But I find the lyrics are still too sad and painful to listen to. It wasn’t long before tears were gently rolling down my face. The moment I had to sniffle my nose my wife looked to see if I was upset and she saw my tears.

Luckily she is a veteran of my reaction to this song and was straight over to offer comfort.

I don’t know what she must think.

What is it about this song? Did anyone else hold it dear to them growing up or was another song special to you?

You don't have to hate me

You don’t have to hate me. Because I am not trying to stand on any ground you claim as yours.

You don’t have to hate me because I have always been taught to hate myself. I can take it from here. Ever since I was four I felt I was somehow wrong and when I expressed that in words that made sense to me I was punished.

As I got older my body and my mind didn’t fit with each other. I didn’t know why. I wanted them to, I prayed to God and asked God to change my body. I wished on every star and birthday cake too.

I asked my parents for help but was ridiculed and endured a punishment and re-education programs. I learned to shut up and conform. I knew I was a freak. I was sure I should hate myself. I didn’t know why this was happening to me and I felt so confused and scared. I hoped it would go away when I got bigger so that I could be like how everyone else seemed to be. Accepting of their own skin. How I longed to have that.

I learned to be what I needed to be. To say the right things, to behave the right way. But it never did go away and puberty started changing my body, making it even more wrong, ever more disgusting. My desperation grew and my desire to go on living ebbed away. At nineteen I tried to end it. Alone and gently weeping in a student dorm room I wrote my farewells to my family and swallowed pills.

I woke to the reality that I hadn’t died and spent the next day waiting to see what happened next. I read the letters I had left and realised the devastation my death would bring. I didn’t want to die anymore. I chose to try to build a life that put my feelings to one side if that was possible. I chose life.

I lived the life I was supposed to live. I became the man they wanted to see. I learned exactly what to say and how to behave.

Over time it slowly became easier for transgender people to come out and transition. I regularly re-assessed my position but always felt that it was not possible for me. I knew my family would never be accepting. I knew society was still basically intolerant and I knew as I got older my chances of transitioning succesfully diminished.

That’s why I am no threat to you. That’s why you don’t need to hate me. I will live out the rest of my life as this mediocre, forgettable man and never attempt to encroach onto your territory. Your restrooms and changing rooms are safe from me, I have no interest in them.

Every space you believe is sacred is safe from me. Just like the stigmatised and abused gay men of the 50s,60, 70s and 80s who were accused of being child molestors and paedophiles, I am not a sexual deviant or predator and neither are my transgender brothers and sisters.

We are a marginalised and vulnerable minority. We are the targets of violence and intimidation not the perpetrators. We ask to be given rights to protect us from those who hate. We ask that those rights are not taken away just because a few criminals have sought to exploit our status for their own advantage.

If we allowed governments to remove our rights just because some criminal elements had exploited them we would have no rights at all.

You don’t have to hate any us. You know we are no threat to you. Your fake accusations are there to mask your real political objectives. You rely on hate and you join a dubious club of political activists who over the world’s dark history have used demonization as a weapon.

A society is judged by the compassion it shows to its minority communities.

History is watching.