On Trans Day of Visibility

On this Transgender Day of Visibility, I am praying for more visibility for the infinite manifestations of gender.

I am bone-deep tired of encountering non-binary people who feel “not trans enough” to call themselves trans, or who are weighed down by the mainstream mythology that being trans means you have to be binary-identified, or you have to medically transition (or want to), or you have to have dysphoria, or you have to be gender nonconforming.

I am tired of the worn-out falsehood that trans women aren’t women and trans men aren’t men, a falsehood that particularly stings when it comes from lesbian, gay, and bi folks. Continue reading

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#RefuseToBeComplicit with White Supremacy in Your Church: An Open Letter to White People of Faith

#RefuseToBeComplicit in my religion 2At every point in the history of the United States there have been people whose faith has provided the bedrock for lifelong efforts to end violence, oppression, and inequity—Dorothy Day, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Bishop Gene Robinson—and there have been others who have used their religion as a weapon to further these same forces; to maintain the oppressive status quo rather than challenge it.

In moments of great political and social upheaval, people of faith need to be clear what side of history they are on: the side of the oppressors or the side of the oppressed. The side that points a way forward, toward life, or the side that willfully ignores the suffering all around them and the moving train on which they are passive passengers.  Continue reading

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Welcome as a Spiritual Practice

This sermon was delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard on April 23, 2017. You can listen to an audio recording here.

My name is Alex and I’m in the business of Welcome.

I’m particularly excited to be here because I’ve heard that you all are engaging with some renewal work around being a Welcoming Congregation—the UU program that congregations can go through to intentionally increase their welcome and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. This congregation was first recognized in 2004. Raise your hands if you were around for that!

So I’m here today, thirteen years after your recognition as a Welcoming Congregation, to ask you to revisit—and possible reimagine—what welcome means to you.

I want to start by telling you about the most welcoming experience I’ve ever had. It happened four years ago when I joined the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. Continue reading

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What Will We Do the Day After Election Day?

I doubt I am alone, during this election cycle, in being afraid, being exhausted, being exhausted of being afraid, and also having moments of anger.

When I think about the day after Election Day, I hope to feel relief. If things go the way I hope they will, my fear is that for those of us who feel relief, all of our anxiety and exhaustion will turn into self-righteousness and gloating — if, that is, we have the comfort and safety and ability to go back to living in a world that seems comfortable and safe.

Meanwhile, the inequality and violence that shaped this current election cycle won’t have changed, and the lives of those of us who have always born the brunt of that inequality and violence won’t have changed. If anything, this election cycle has stoked the fires of racism, sexism, classism, and other forms of inequality and violence. Continue reading

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A New Adventure

Home page pic squareYesterday I did a thing: I launched a new website / blog called Radical Copyeditor. Don’t worry, I’m not abandoning this blog; I’m just creating a different space for voicing thoughts on a particular topic: the concept of using language as a tool for liberation.

My love of copyediting began in the early 2000s during an internship with South End Press, a majority women of color–run book publishing collective that is sadly now defunct. The amazing women I got to work with there helped me understand not only that I had a gift for copyediting, but also that publishing could be a form of activism. Since then I have endeavored to use my nerdy word powers to create positive change in the world. Continue reading

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Transgender Faith

This sermon was delivered at First Unitarian Society in Newton, MA, on February 21, 2016. 

I want to start by telling you a story. This story comes from one of my spiritual mentors, the fabulous Kate Bornstein, and it is her version—a queer and transgender version—of the story of Adam and Eve. Here’s how it goes:

Once upon a time, God was bored. God needed a project. So God created a world! And God created Lilith, but she was a little too much to handle so God sent her on her way and created Adam and Eve. And God made them a garden and told them, “Everything you need is here. Go anywhere you please, do anything you want, be happy and fulfilled.”

“Oh—there’s just one little thing,” God said. “All I ask is that you not eat the pretty looking apples on that gnarly looking tree over there. Okay?”

Well before you know it a serpent showed up and seduced Eve into eating an apple. And Eve in turn convinced Adam to take a bite. And as the story goes, they were instantly aware of their nakedness and were ashamed.

God realized what had happened and came to see them. But God wasn’t mad. God was profoundly sad. And I’ll tell you why. The reason God had wanted Eve and Adam to not eat from that tree was because it was the tree of good and evil. As soon as they ate from it, they were aware of the binary of good and evil, and they were seduced by it. Continue reading

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Identity is Not a Label

Oh, identity label. No matter what term you are—gay, Black, blind, Jewish, straight, young, Latina, fat, kinky, white, Deaf, trans, or a thousand others—what a complex existence you have.

queer weapon coloredIn the hands of a bully, you are a weapon. You are hurled as an insult in an attempt to force people into being more “normal” or “right”—or just to make them feel crummy about themselves. You are a cage, something to lock people into in order to define the limits of “acceptable” behavior for them, or to make them feel powerless and defined only by a single unchangeable (or falsely perceived) aspect of themselves. You can be used to cause shame, fear, defensiveness, ridicule, confusion, and hurt. Continue reading

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Vibrancy on the Margins: AIDS, Solidarity, and Justice

I don’t always know how to express where my calling to do transformational change work comes from. I don’t always know how to give voice to what motivates me to not only act in solidarity but keep showing up and even on some level pay a cost for showing up. What won’t allow me to be quiet, what won’t allow me to get quiet to get along.

But when I think about where my sense of solidarity comes from there is one particular moment from my life that I go back to in my consciousness, one moment I revisit in order to understand even a little bit what my black and brown friends and communities of color in general experience in the world, what #BlackLivesMatter is really about. If you have never encountered cold, impersonal hate, then I don’t think you can understand both the paralyzing fear that it creates, and how alone the system leaves you feeling—the profound sense of isolation that comes with meeting hate like that. I have encountered it, and it’s a moment in a lifetime of such moments that I will never forget.

Continue reading

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Testosterone, Week 7: Still Here, Still Genderqueer

My decision to start taking testosterone seven weeks ago wasn’t one I came to easily. For months, if not years, I wrestled with an enormous, tangled ball of yarn and rubber bands made up of conflicting emotions and a thousand stories running through my head about what such a decision would mean.whac a mole colored

One story that kept popping its head up out of my unconscious mind, like a whac-a-mole game, was that I would somehow be giving up on being genderqueer if I started testosterone. A small vicious voice seemed to whisper in my ear that taking T would mean I was retiring my charade of being neither man nor woman and finally picking a side, finally transitioning.

Whack.

I’m here to deliver the death knell to that whac-a-mole gremlin. Giving up on being genderqueer, on being myself? Nothing could be further from the truth. Taking testosterone is an act of rededication to my full, fabulous self; an act of love; a gift I am giving myself—not a resignation. Continue reading

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A World with No Closets

“When did you come out?”

It’s a question that I get asked often, and it never ceases to make me smile wryly due to the impossibility of answering it in the straightforward and simple way that is invariably expected.

“When did you come out” presumes that the act of naming one’s truth and self-identity is a one-time, all-encompassing event, a clear and unmistakable milestone on the linear timeline of one’s life. It also presumes that there is only one facet of self-identity that is deserving of such a declaration. Continue reading

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