I’ve got coffee; and I’m not afraid to use itTrans Progressive Thursday, November 17th, 2011
Commentary: Trans Progressive
I’ve become painfully aware that I don’t always live up to my own standards.
Two recent incidents serve as perfect examples of my higher mind giving into the primal instinct of anger and to the age-old desire for revenge. Indeed, I have failed to live up to my own standards. The particular standard I failed to live up to most recently involves the principle found in this Martin Luther King Jr. quote:
“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
In each of the two situations – in flashes of anger – I chose aggression or retaliation; I chose to attempt to drive out darkness with more darkness.
Each of us has our own peculiar human failings. Owning up to the fact that we have such things as components of our characters is an exercise that we may consider demonstrative of weaknesses. But we must – I must – move past such egotistical fearfulness if I – if we – want to be constructively self-aware. Once we do that, we can (and often should) change some of our behaviors. In the interest of positive self-discovery and with a desire to improve my own character, I’m going to publicly own my two most recent failures.
The first situation began on a late Friday afternoon – the Friday before the annual Adams Avenue Street Fair. I was walking west on Adams Avenue, and I was carrying a two-thirds full cup of iced, decaffeinated hammerhead I’d bought from the Kensington Starbucks. Beyond 35th Street, I passed Lou Jones’s Inn – an establishment that bills itself as a “dive bar.”
In front of the bar were three male smokers who looked to be in their early to mid twenties. I wouldn’t have even given them a second thought, except that one of the three said words to the effect of, “Look at her … him … that thing” as I passed in front of them. Calling me a “thing” was the very memorable word of the man’s taunt.
Now for the most part, I “pass” in my target sex, which is to say I’m not often read as male. As a trans woman, that I “pass” in my daily life saves me from a lot of discrimination. However, I’m very publicly trans. I’ve been on local news programs here in San Diego quite a few times, and in the print edition of San Diego LGBT Weekly I have a photograph of me published with my columns. So, I have no idea whether this young man “read” me as trans, or recognized me from my being publicly visible as trans in the local media; and it didn’t really matter which of the two it was. What mattered to me is the very fact that he used an anti-transgender pejorative toward me that’s on par with the anti-gay f-word pejorative.
At the moment I heard and felt the sting of those words, I flashed red. I took the lid off my iced coffee and threw it in his face. While doing that, I said, “That’s for calling me thing.” Then I walked past – having noticed the young man had a stunned look on his face as I turned my back on him. I guess he expected me to lower my head in shame, obviously not knowing that I identify myself as being “Trans and Proud.”
I felt good about my behavior until I realized I’d given into aggression and retaliation. I did the man no real harm, and I didn’t engage in behavior that the young man didn’t on some level deserve … but that’s not the way I want to behave when confronted with hate.
The second situation involved Adams Avenue again; this time walking east after purchasing a hot hammerhead at Lestat’s coffee house. I was waiting at Adams and 35th when the light turned green and the pedestrian signal turned to “walk.” I stepped into the street, and a driver turning left cut through the crosswalk.
I can’t tell you how many times while walking down Adams Avenue I’ve been almost run over by drivers who didn’t bother to look for pedestrians before turning. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s been dozens. But this time when it happened, I was in a bad mood, and I was again armed with a fresh cup of coffee.
Again, giving into anger, I took the lid off my coffee and this time I tossed it on the side of the driver’s car. I then continued walking.
Needless to say, the driver turned his car around, his passenger rolled down the window, and volley of yelling ensued.
Within moments of the last loud utterance, I felt regretful. Again, I’d given into the urge to express aggression and to retaliate. In each of those two situations, I saw that I’m not always the moral person I see myself as being, but instead am someone who, in flashes of anger, doesn’t live up to her own standards of tolerance, patience, love and understanding.
For me, I need to stop weaponizing my coffee and start thinking before I act in anger. Darkness can’t drive out darkness – only light can do that. I want to be a light.
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