Transcend: Grace for Neutrois, Refugees, and Red-Cup Protestors

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Transcend: Grace for Neutrois, Refugees, and Red-Cup Protestors

By Trey Greene


“I see you.”  A friend said this to me in a text earlier this month when I was having a hard day, continuing to fight with myself and those around me critical of me for being too quiet.  Okay, it’s mostly me flaying myself for it, but regardless…  As a person who is less verbal than most everyone else and trans, it was the most beautiful thing she could have said.  Being unseen is what has caused me more pain than anything else throughout my life.  Through gender dysphoria, suicidal thoughts, and trauma – it is invisibility that hurts most.

I grew up in a rural town where open-mindedness is considered a danger and even a sin.  I saw a church sign there once stating, “Don’t be too open-minded or your brain might fall out.”  I laughed hysterically at its absurdity, but it also made me sad because without their having an open mind, for most of my life, it was like I didn’t exist.  I would stand at recess with my Bible trying to convert my classmates to my Baptist faith because it was what I was told was the only way to express truth and love.  Yes, I confess that I was a 4th grade Bible thumper!  Oh, the irony…  So I understand what it’s like to believe as many do, that I am an affront to God.  It’s hard to question what you’ve been told from day one, to be faced with the options of going against God or rethinking what you’ve known as your basic truth.

Maybe it’s the same fear that drives people to yell about red cups at Starbucks.  Many of us know and feel that there’s nothing wrong with saying “Happy Holidays” as a way to respect that many holidays are celebrated throughout this time of year that are not Christmas.  It’s not about being politically correct, but in recognizing that there are other people in the world who have for decades been largely unseen under this massive Christmas hoopla.  When you say “Happy Holidays”, you are simply acknowledging, “I see you” to all those people.   But I also see the fear in those who shout that saying it and making red cups is about a war on Christmas.  I was only about 7 the first time I questioned my father who was saying that he “just knew” that Protestant Christianity was the only way to God, “Wait, but don’t other people ‘just know’ their way is right, too?”  I try to remind myself that this thought was so terrifying to him that he stuttered and awkwardly started asking me math questions to distract me from the answer he never gave.

Our neutrois peers need the same visibility.  Now, I realize and acknowledge with utmost respect that not everyone identifies under this, but neutrois is just a cool word so it’s the one I chose to say.  Plus, I like the flag. J  The point I’m trying and failing to get to is that people keep protesting this whole “they/them/their” pronoun situation.  What I see is that people identifying outside the binary use “they” for lack of another option.  There are even more protests to “making up words” to use for pronouns.  So please, if someone asks to be called “they/them/their”, be respectful of that.  You might mess up.  Even though I totally understand and feel somewhat not on the binary myself, I screw up the pronouns, but I try my best because I know that being seen for who you are is so vital to our happiness as human beings.  We had this same argument that people can’t be biracial, bisexual, etc.  I know it makes things neater for the checkboxes and paperwork we all do in our head, but that’s not how it works.  The deficit is with the English language not having a neutral pronoun like many other languages do, so “they” is as close as we’ve got because we’re not referring to human beings as “it”.

Speaking of dehumanizing people, let’s talk about the Syrian refugees.   Can I please ask this holiday season that a few more people step off the hamster wheel and realize how many times we as Americans have done this?  First, it was the Native Americans (to whom, WE were the terrorists, by the way).  I can’t keep up with all the groups we are being encouraged to hate.  We have enslaved people, put the Japanese in internment camps, hate immigrants of every nationality to varying degrees depending on current events, hate the “gays”, hate the Communists, and now we’re stuck on this Muslim business.  Syrians are not fundamentally different from us and neither are people who belong to the Islamic faith.  In fact, the main thing that struck me in reading the Koran as a religion major was how incredibly similar it is to the Old Testament.  And some Christians interpret the Bible literally and take it upon themselves to go out and murder LGBTQ individuals, “terrorizing” them if you will because they somehow believe that God hates them.  Or they will at least tell me I should be executed or drowned for my sins against God and nature.  We just had a ceremony honoring those we lost to anti-trans violence.  Many of them were likely killed by people raised as Christians who would justify their violence using Biblical text, but most can agree that doesn’t mean all Christians are monsters.  And I would like very much for us so try to extend the same grace to those who identify as Muslim.  Being a Muslim makes you a terrorist no more than being a Christian makes you a murderer.

I simply propose this, whatever you celebrate, that we all work to recognize things we might be blind to and to see those who are most invisible to us, regardless of whether their opinions are right or wrong or whether we agree with them.  I do celebrate Christmas, and for me, that means a time when we all should come together as human beings and celebrate love and the miraculous gift of being alive while we honor our respective traditions and the things we share, not those things that so often divide us.

If you need support or want to share your story, please contact [email protected] or reach out to Transcend Charlotte (


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