Uncommon Understanding

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Recently a man with a gun accosted my adult child, Char, on a San Francisco street. Supported by three friends, the gunman said, "Let's kill this tranny." As a parent I still imagine between my shoulder blades the fear Char must have felt as they fled.

I have become separated from Char by an unanticipated chasm of privilege. Our love and appreciation for one another have not changed; but Char, raised in a white, middle class home, now faces daily discrimination, threat, insult and misunderstanding. For persons of color, the risks are worse.

Sadly, I have been slow to grasp all that these changes mean.  I am as insensitive at times as any stranger to the longing for understanding that Char and every transperson, like every vulnerable person, wishes for and deserves. I still struggle to get the pronouns right, especially when our language discounts a sense of self not well-described by the pronouns she or he.

I admire Char. What courage it takes to explore one's self and sexuality. This handsome, lovely person is risking so much I take for granted, to become on the outside what their heart has always known and longed for within. It takes courage to be oneself, especially when that self is not well-served by our common understanding of male and female.

Recently, yet another trans woman was murdered. I grieve for her, and for her family, and for her community, who weep for her now and who will remember her, and so many others, on their annual Day of Remembrance.


So there is a second kind of courage which Char has that I respect and regret. That is the courage Char and every other transsexual person must have to leave their homes each day, knowing the risks and insults they will surely face.

With a Perspective, I'm Robin Crawford.

Robin Crawford and his wife, Nancy, live in Pacifica.