Tuesday, March 19, 2019
It has to be at least a year ago that I met the amazing and fabulous Jessica Lynn. If you don't know Jessica travels the world giving speeches about her transgender life experiences. She is helping to educate the world that we transgender folk are just regular people trying to navigate this thing called life.
Anywho.... I met her at a group therapy session with my super cool therapist. Jessica came to talk with us about what she does. During that time she encouraged us to get out there and do the same thing that she is doing, talk with the general public about what it means to be transgender. It intrigued me immensely. I mean I love to talk, and I am proficient at speaking with large groups of humans, so it seemed like it was right up my alley.
The only issue was, I had no idea bout what I would say. Jessica's story is heartbreaking. It is filled with lots of ups and downs, immense drama, and mega injustices happening during her transition. Myself, my story is not nearly as drama filled. I told my therapist that while I wanted to get out there and speak, I didn't really think that I had anything about my particular story that would be all that interesting for anyone to listen to.
That was at least a year ago. During this time in between, much of the writing portion of my brain has been locked in on the idea of writing a speech for a presentation to college students. I started writing it last summer. I got about 75% of the way there and then stopped working on it. I had lost inspiration and it was hard to look back on my story without becoming lost in the emotionalism of it all. But it bothered me that I couldn't seem to finish it. I began worrying about it and pondering what it was that I wanted my message to be. It weighed heavily on me.
During this past winter break from teaching I became determined to finish my speech so that I had at least something to work with. I figured out how to end it and with glee I began emailing professors at colleges around me. Happily one teacher wrote back super quickly and inquired about my speech. We agreed to have me come in to his class in the middle of March. I was thrilled.
And then the speech sat. I had done my jobs so far. I wrote the speech and had a class to go give it. Near the beginning of this month, I went back to the speech and began trying to practice the speech I had written. I hated it! It bored me! That was not good. I quickly set out to write another more interesting version. I finished that one in a day or two. I thought it was okay, but then I had the opportunity to go see my inspiration, Jessica, give her speech. It was then that I realized what both of my speeches were missing, heart.
I sat down for a third time and wrote another speech. Now when I say, wrote a speech, it really is not quite that simple. In writing these speeches, what I was really doing was to create three different PowerPoint presentations. Really, nobody wants to sit through an hour long speech that someone reads from a typed page of text. And, even if they do, that is not the speech that I wanted to write. I wanted to write a speech that would pull people in and allow them to see a glimpse into what it means to be transgender.
I gave the beginning parts of my two second speeches to my wife and asked her thoughts. We both agreed that the third one seemed to be the one to focus on. I worked on it throughout much of last week and finally ended up with something that I thought was doable. I began practicing my presentation and thought I had it down pretty well. It is fascinating in giving an ad-lib speech, meaning not from a typed text. With an ad-lib speech, it changes every time it is given. Thus I simply wanted to be confident that I could flow with it and make sure that I covered the key points.
Yesterday was the day. I was super nervous and unsure. But I made my way to UC Merced and found the teacher's office. We sat and chatted for a few minutes before heading over to his classroom. I got my computer setup, he introduced me, and off I went. The next hour passed in a blur and it was over before I knew it.
They all clapped and praised me for my efforts. So far I have gotten some great feedback from the teacher and a fabulous letter from a student. Apparently, they like me, they really like me! Which is great. But my largest hope is that I can help educate the non-trans population. People need to see that we are just like any other human being.
My hope is to be able to continue contacting college professors and to be able to continue to go in and do my thing. This is not an effort to get rich or famous. This is an effort to help educate. At my core, that is what I am, an educator. If I can use my skills and talents to help educate the world and make it a little bit easier for trans and cis alike, then I have truly won.