The Holiday Season Is Upon Us! – Tis The Season To Perhaps Be Civil?

Local PridesDeja Nicole Greenlaw at a former Pride celebration circa 2012.
Photo: TRT Archives

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Holiday Season or not, trying to get along is the most important thing to do

By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/ TRT Columnist—

Yes, it’s December and the holiday season is upon us. This is the time of year when we are reminded to give goodwill toward others. However, with the current political climate and the way the administration is going after trans people, it’s hard to muster up any goodwill towards some folks. Vicious name-calling from many points on the political spectrum and the erasing of transgender people from government policies can make you feel like your back is up against the wall.

In the early 1970s, I was disgusted with the United States. The Vietnam War was raging on and I was a draft resister and a vocal opponent against the war. Whenever I voiced my opposition to the war, I was called a fa&@ot, a communist, and a pinko and I was told, “America, love it or leave it.” These responses made me dig my heels in even further and my anger grew.

The president back then was Richard Nixon, and I was angry that anybody would vote for him. I remember my anger of the early 1970s and I can see similar anger today in many people. But today, I look back and see that I didn’t have to be so angry back then. I could have still held my point of view, yet I didn’t have to be so angry and so emotional about it. I know that humans are emotional and many times when in an emotional state, things may be said or done that we might regret. Because this is the holiday season, I’d like to offer some thoughts in the hopes that some folks might find more civility towards others.

I am not saying to let things be as they are and not to voice opinions but rather to temper the emotions a bit on those opinions. For example, listen to an opposing viewpoint and try to keep the emotions in check while you respond. There seemingly may be no agreement at all on the viewpoint, but listening to the reasoning of the opposing view is a civil start. Perhaps something new may be learned about their viewpoint?

Keeping it civil may prevent those with opposing views to dig in with their emotions. By practicing civility and avoiding emotions, maybe we can get a point or two across, give others something to reconsider and perhaps even ultimately change their viewpoints? It always breaks my heart a little when I hear about people unfriending or blocking other people on Facebook just because there is an opposing viewpoint. These actions seem to solidify polarization. I would rather keep the communication lines open.

It also saddens me when some trans folks go after some of their allies because the allies made the mistake of misgendering the trans person. I am a trans person, a trans woman to be more specific, and because of my height, my voice, and my hands, I do sometimes get misgendered. Yes, it does hurt me to be misgendered, but I feel if it was done in an innocent error, I try to hold my emotions in check towards the person who misgendered me. I may offer a calm response to remind them that I identify as female and that to misgender me hurts me deeply and to please not do it again. I try not to lash out at my ally.

I think that if we could find it in our hearts to try to be a little less emotional, a little more civil, and a little more willing to listen to others with opposing viewpoints, perhaps we might help further our causes as trans people. Maybe we could show some love instead of hate and perhaps reach others more easily? Maybe we can even help change their minds? I’m reminded what the great Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” I think that it may be worth a try.

*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has 3 children and two grandchildren. She can be contacted at dejavudeja@sbcglobal.net.

[This post was originally published on the December 6, 2018 issue of The Rainbow Times.]