One Year Later - A word from the Chair of the IFGE Board of Directors

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #105, Spring 2004.

by Moonhawk River Stone

I crossed the bridge again tonight, picking my way among the icy leftovers of the intense early arrival of winter. Found my brick, too; midnight and the new year would wait while I considered
it one more time, feeling so inconspicuously anonymous in the crowd of New Year?s revelers. Just one of hundreds come to see the old year out and the
new in with the midnight fireworks
over the river, my transness, my queerness invisible in the revelry, and heavy clothing for the night?s chill.
Things were tense and uneasy beneath the brightness and levity of the crowd. At four o?clock this very afternoon, a young man, 24 years old and as full of promise as they get, became a murdered bystander in an unfortunate accident when police pursuing a suspect opened fire. He died instantly, while the suspect got away, only to be apprehended later. Police were out everywhere, itchy and nervous, quiet and somber, sticking together, seemingly reluctant to work. Wondering, I bet, how the public might receive them this evening.

Murder and mayhem had touched our region at a startling rate in the past seven days, with seven people murdered and both a police officer and suspect in critical condition in intensive care at the hospital. I think we were numb with both the extreme violence and the senselessness of it all. That numbness lurked beneath the revelry.

On nights such as these, I like my anonymity. I?m just one more older guy, invisible in the throng of young couples and families out for a good time. But not even the fireworks could make this good time reach for the stars. Somehow, when my eyes met the sky, all I could see were the stars mingling with the fireworks, reminding me how short life is, how precious it is, and how quickly it can be extinguished.
When you read this, the war in Iraq, despite the President?s declaration of victory, will be a year old, and the quagmire that has been created is still deepening daily. That moment Alyn Libman and I shared last March (see Tapestry #103 pg 7) will be a year old, too. He has moved on to Berkeley, thrusting himself into
the challenges and joys of freshman year at college, safe from war, but not from the aftereffects of the war, not from the terror we as queer people feel here at home where fear of homeland security is often greater than any fear of terrorism we might have.

I had come across the bridge to the fireworks from seeing ?Lord of the Rings,? and was reminded that in the end the good guys win, but meanwhile life is terrifyingly dangerous, challenging all to the core of their spirits, and a lot of good people die. Some, like Frodo, are so forever changed they can no longer live in the world, having experienced life at an altogether different intensity and spectrum. For others, everything is essentially changed, yet life goes on as if nothing had changed. The paradox.
We?re like that at this dawning of the New Year in the transgender community. Weary from battle, having lost a lot of very fine people to hate crimes and other tragedies. We?ve come to realize that trouble may come even from those among us. It?s like it was at the end of ?The Two Towers;? we?ve survived the dark times (pre the Lawrence v. Texas victory) to see the dramatic rise of hope out of the helplessness of the dark, only to realize the real battle lies ahead and that it will be the ultimate test for all of us. And it won?t be easy or pretty. Just gruelingly tough for a while. Then, as Ghandi has said, we?ll win.
Then what? Well, there will always be others to help. But we must remember that like all challenges before us, not all is grim; victories are happening every day on many fronts, just as in ?Lord Of The Rings.?
We as transgendered people gained our civil rights in more places this year?California; New Mexico; Key West; Peoria and Springfield, IL; Covington, KY; Ithaca, NY; and other places. We?ve come before the media with mixed results, but more often respectful than not. Our knowledge of ourselves is increasing, and we?re publishing more and better information about ourselves (Mr. Bailey notwithstanding). Our voices and our perspective are more included in progressive politics?Governor Dean supports transgendered people, as do former Texas Governor Ann Richards and others.

I am reminded that even in the darkest nights, there is hope and enchantment. Watching the fireworks, my thoughts fell to an October night, returning home from a community presentation on the movie ?No Dumb Questions.? On the on ramp to the freeway, I came upon an injured bunny, sitting paralyzed with fright in the middle of the road. Hir injuries were not fatal, so I bent down and began talking softly to the bunny, and, leaning closer, offered the healing energy of Reiki. After several minutes, I helped the bunny hop to the road?s shoulder and continued my Reiki. Then, the bunny looked up at me with those big deep bunny eyes, sighed, and very deliberately rubbed hir nose delicately the full length of first my left, then my right hand. Following that, I was able to place my hands directly on the bunny?s body, which, if you know bunnies, is unheard-of contact. Meanwhile, I had waved several cars around me. The next car was that of an off-duty police officer, who stopped, got out, identified himself to me, and offered to help, stating that just the previous week he had rescued a raccoon on this very ramp. He moved my car, directed traffic around me, graciously dealing with a car full of rowdy, nasty
college boys. He was fascinated by what I was doing, and stood a respectful distance until the bunny was able to hop off on hir own. We shook hands, pleased with the result.
Thinking of that officer, the bunny, and the past week of violence, I knew things would be OK. It?s a good year when you?re kissed by a bunny and you can count among the police compassionate and caring officers.
Here at IFGE, we?ve come through a year of preparation and stabilization, getting ready to step out a little differently than we have in the past. No fireworks yet, but compassion and caring through education are in abundance here at IFGE. You?ll be hearing more from us about these changes in the near future. We hope they?ll delight you and inspire you.

Till next time...

Copyright ? 2004 by Moonhawk River Stone

Hawk Stone can be reached at: