Saturday, October 11, 2008

National Coming Out Day

Taking the Leap of Faith

Today is National Coming Out Day, a time when people who have been closeted are encouraged to come into the light of life, to be open, honest and authentic unto themselves. I often talk about the fact that for transgenders, there is no "choice" about coming out - only a question of "when". For our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, coming out is a matter of sharing something deeply personal - but they look the same the next day. Not so for us. Our whole lives are radically and dramatically changed. We become a physical reminder every day of our status.

And so I would ask for your special prayers for the transgenders who come Out today - and any day. The world is slowly becoming a better place for us. As more and more transwomen and transmen come out, become more visible, more and more people find role models and encouragement in making their Leap. Laws are slowly changing as well, but they continue to spread. Currently close to 40% of the population is now covered by anti-discrimination laws at the state, county or city level. And Diane Schroer last month won her federal discrimination suit against the Library of Congress, thus paving the way for transpeople to seek judicial relief on the basis of sex discrimination.

Though written for gays and lesbians, here are some prayers for those coming out, their families and their friends. Authors Leanne Tigert and Timothy Brown, in their book 'Coming Out Young and Faithful' offer these three prayers:

Prayer for Coming Out

Creator God, I am learning things all the time.
It is a gift to get to know you and your world, your beautiful creations.
I am also getting to know myself,
and I am discovering I am attracted to members of my gender - other girls (or boys). Sometimes the things I feel are strong and deep.
Sometimes it even feels like love.
Sometimes I feel scared about these feelings.
Sometimes I feel wonderful about them.
I know that I am your creation,
and you have given me a wonderful gift in my orientation.
I pray for your supporting presence as I become more comfortable with my feelings.
I pray for your guidance,
that I may know when it is the right time
for me to let other people know about this part of me.
I pray for your supporting presence if I should be rejected,
knowing that you, God who created me, will not reject me,
that you will affirm me as part of your beautiful creation.
In your trust. Amen.

Parent's Prayer

God you are the creator of the universe.
You created all that is.
You made the animals, and the fish and the birds,
you created humanity.
You created me
and you created the miracle that is my child, whom I love deeply.
I/We have just learned that s/he is gay.
I/We don't know why you created her/him this way
Help me/us not only to accept him/her
but to fully embrace and love him/her for who he/she is
I/We ask for your presence during my/our own journey with my/our daughter/son.
I/We also ask for your presence
and special protection with my/our child on her/his journey in this world,
which can sometimes be so cruel,
especially to one so different.
I/We ask your blessing on my/our family.

A Friend's Prayer

Loving Spirit and Friend,
my friend (name) is coming out as gay.
I ask for you to be present with my friend,
to help him/her know that s/he is loved - by me, by you, and by others.
Guide my friend as s/he comes to terms with his/her identity.
Protect her/him from the cruel things people may say or do;
surround him/her with support and with your love.

I have recently had the mothers of two transpeople contact me. One is the parent of a transwoman in her early 20's, the other of a transman still in his late teens. Both express more concern from society's antipathy and bigotry about us and how that may affect their children than the fact they're having to learn to accept their "new" child. I hope each has learned a bit more about the journey and that transpeople can and do lead healthy, productive lives. Continuing to hide, continuing the charade, continuing to bow to society's pressures is what causes destruction of the soul. Be well, be open, I hope you long bask in the light of Life.

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