Practicing Hope – by Drew Stever. Member Blog, Day 5

“Trump administration rolls back protections for transgender students.”
“Administration announces they will ban transgender people from serving in the military.”
“Hate Violence Against Trans People Still ‘Disturbingly Common’”
“Candace Towns is the 25th Trans Person Murdered in 2017” (posted on 11/2)

It was around this time last year that I came out to my family as transgender. I went into it knowing these headlines, feeling the grief in my gut.

On the surface, things were…fine. But below all that, I was having a really hard time feeling any kind of hope. We had entered a political administration that felt my body was a threat. I could feel the air become more violent, and the murders of my trans siblings reflected that. To date, 2016 was the deadliest year for trans folks with 27 murders. 2017 is not far behind.

When I came out to my family, I had no idea how they would respond. Thankfully, my parents are disgustingly supportive and responded with love and a desire to go on my journey with me. I moved back to Minnesota from Chicago in January, but before I left, my therapist at the time invited me to reflect on this question as often as possible: How am I being gentle with myself?

This past year has been more about practicing gentleness as a way to cultivate hope. Gentleness for me has materialized as not reading political news articles, or posting any (or as many as possible), going to therapy regularly, unplugging from all social media once a week, and enrolling in a Crossfit gym that centers on the experiences of LGBTQ folks, women, and people of color. Gentleness means confronting the choices I’ve made in the past year and leading me to decide to no longer drink alcohol. Gentleness means forgiving myself and giving myself time and space to heal. Gentleness means being intentional about whom I spend my time with. Gentleness means creating stricter boundaries in order to have a stronger relationship.

Gentleness lately, for me, means putting down my ego and asking for help in raising money for my top surgery in February. It’s like dropping a seed into the ground while you’re looking away and hoping it’ll grow, but not really expecting anything too miraculous. Only to be completely amazed at the growth, at the support, at who shows up. Gentleness means allowing yourself to be held by those you had no idea were paying attention. Letting yourself be held by the grace of God and not having to do anything in return. I practice hope by staying soft, with others, yes, but with myself first. By doing so, I am then able to practice it with others.