My friend and colleague in Patheos blogging, Justin Whitaker, has a new interview with the creators of transbuddhists.org over at his blog American Buddhist Perspective. Do make sure you take a look at it.
Here’s a snippet:
Who counts as “trans*” and why is it important for Buddhists today to understand the term?
We use trans* (“trans” or “trans-star”) as an umbrella term to describe anyone who’s had an experience of their internal understanding of their gender not matching the gender they were assigned at birth. That includes people who transition from one gender to another, people whose understanding of their own gender is something other than male or female, people who cross-dress or express their gender in different ways at different times, and more.
As Buddhists, when we practice mindfulness, we come into contact with what’s actually going on for us and others by way of our our sensations and thoughts. This coming into contact allows us to see the truth of what is happening and offer compassion where it’s needed, to ourselves and to others. This happens through connection with each other.
When cisgender people take time to learn more about trans*ness and what it can be like to live as a trans* person, they can find points of connection around shared human experience. For example, while someone who is cisgender may not identify with a particular difficult situation faced by a trans* person, it’s very possible that they can connect to emotions associated with that experience, which could be feelings of being ignored or disrespected, of those of anger, frustration, or shame.
On the other hand, when people don’t understand about trans* people’s experiences, retreat centers or sanghas or any other type of organization unintentionally replicate structures that can exclude or oppress many trans folks, such as gender segregation.
A person who learns about trans* experiences both has the opportunity to concretely support trans* people by taking steps to make Buddhist spaces more accessible, as well as to reconsider and think more carefully about their own conditioned understandings of gender.