I have never considered a political autobiography before. One might think a political autobiography would somehow reflect a person's development, maturity, and increased consciousness from one's life experiences and would therefore suggest an evolution of some sort in which the political consciousness becomes tempered over time. I don't think so. I find most party politics and issue politics almost beyond redemption.
My first wake up call to face the political reality of my early life was in September 1970, the month in which I turned 18 and saw my first draft card--one with my name on it.
I was "classified" as 1-A for a year pending the outcome of the first lottery I ever knew--the lottery which picked which young men would be drafted and sent to Viet Nam to join the thousands already there to join in the killing or to get killed, in an attempt to preserve some honor, protect our freedom, or serve some military-industrial-political interests. I had an awareness that I was not old enough to vote, yet could be drafted. I became aware that our nation's leaders were willing to throw away the lives of many sons, brothers, and fathers for little or no reason at all. I became aware the abuses such as Watergate were not uncommon, and were used to political advantage to extend the political life and goals of our leaders at the expense of all of the rest of us.
It wasn't until I entered seminary that I claimed my pacifism in any constructive manner. While our country was engaging in a series Central American military, paramilitary, and proxy conflicts, I was asked to serve a Quaker Meeting. Since I was not a Quaker, I began to study formative Quaker writings and discovered a rich tradition revealing many gems, including a well articulated Theology of pacifism. My activism, for a while, centered around a local group of Mennonite, Quaker, and Bretheren called New Call to Peacemaking. We investigated the activity of military recruiters in local high schools and requested a place at the table on school career days to promote careers grounded in peace and non-violence. We also demonstrated a few times and I published an article challenging us to have peacemaking as a central focus of our faith. Our intentions were noble, our results disappointing, yet I hope we somehow contributed to some greater whole unforeseen from my perspective.
If I were to attribute any single factor to forming my political values and issues, it would be my Theology. The biggest challenge for a seminarian, is to braid all the disparate elements of faith into a non-self-conflicting whole. (This is very challenging since many of us have conflicting beliefs; that if taken to their logical conclusion, would lead to some very untrue statements about God, humanity, good, evil, and redemption.) My Theological system, directs my values on pacifism, racism, feminism, ecology, ecumenism, socialism, capital punishment, hunger, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
It was not until I attended my first Transgender Day of Remembrance, outdoors on a cold, windy, drizzly November afternoon in 2004 that my soul received a wound so deep I despaired. I was in my early stages of transition and had just moved to living full-time female two months earlier. For those unfamiliar with TDOR, this event honors and remembers all those transgender brothers and sisters who have been murdered. The sheer numbers of those murdered, the anemic efforts by law enforcement agencies to investigate the crimes, the lack of prosecution in many cases, and the repeated use of transphobic rage as a mitigating factor in drastic sentence reduction of offenders--all were coming together to create the mind set that transgender murder is certainly understandable and tolerated. When I learned of intersex babies that had been beaten and discarded, or of a transgender who bleed to death in a car accident while paramedics refused to touch her, when a post-op transgender lives in stealth for 20 years, is discovered and dismembered--I grieved. I know I live with a vulnerability that is far greater than that of most women. I also know there is no safe way to be transgendered.
I have chosen to live my life as courageously as I can. I chose to work to make the world safer for the next transgender brother or sister who embarks upon their path. In my life, I chose to put a human face on transgenderism and affirm that God is both with us and in all of us.