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International Transgender Day of Visibility -Day of Truth

Today is the International Transgender Day of Visibility. And today more than ever we need to celebrate the nature of diversity in our communities as we currently have politicians who are institutionalizing laws to prevent individuals from not only being who they are but even threatening to fire individuals who say the word “gay” in public schools. Some might say they have the right to create these laws but what if the opposite were done: laws were created to prevent people from speaking the truth: As in Russian today, it is against the law to state that Russia is at war with Ukraine. Yet even World Court members are stating that Russia and its troops are committing Crimes of War in Ukraine. Remember, Russia attacked Ukraine not the reverse.

It appears we are slipping back into the Middle Ages when people were accused of acts against nature and God. The difference is that back then one could have been burned at the stake or tortured. I am not suggesting that we headed in that direction,

nor do I wish us to, but if people are not paying attention to what is happening in our communities, similar acts against humanity could happen.

It’s crucial for Truth to come to light. Therein lies the problem. Whose truth does one believe? If in Russia today, the Russian truth is that there is no War in Ukraine, never mind that communities have been bombed, burned, destroyed and countless individuals have been killed in the process.

The media in the USA, depending upon one’s source can be filled with truth while other sources can be filled with lies/untruths. What happens is that eventually, people don’t know who to believe or trust. This is where “Freedom” begins to be chiseled away. But who’s “Freedom”? Who can claim this ethereal “Freedom” in the abstract? Do only those who speak the “truth” get this “Freedom” or only those who tell others what their “Freedom” is and where the limits are? Once anyone begins to take away individuals’ sense of “Freedom” slowly but surely the communities themselves begin to have their “Freedom” removed from them as well.

Last night I saw the rerun of the Met’s Live in HD Opera performance of Verdi’s French version of “Don Carlos.” It was superb and the singers amazing. But as I sat there watching, I couldn’t not help but think about the parallels between 16th century Spain and what is happening both in the USA and in Ukraine. Stay with me for a bit.

Although the “Don Carlos” opera does not recount the actual history of King Phillip II of Spain, there are numerous similarities. For one King Phillip II questioned the loyalty of his own son. In truth Don Carlos was promised to marry the woman who eventually married his father, King Phillip II. This of course is not good for the family dynamics. Plus King Phillip II was having trouble with the Spanish Netherlands and the Spanish Inquisitor was an unruly man of power who was set out to control as many people as he could. It was before this time and during this time that hundreds if not thousands were tortured or killed in Spain because they did not do as regulated by the State—the state of the Church. So not only would today’s LGBTQ? Communities be at risk of being tortured if not killed by the Inquisition but so were Jews and anyone else who did not speak, act, or follow the protocols of the Church and the Crown.

Interestingly, Russia told its people that they were getting rid of the Nazis of Ukraine, but this is not the case. Ukraine’s president is of Jewish heritage and most Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians who want nothing else but to live their lives in their own country under their duly elected president and not under Russia’s authority, and for this they are dying on a daily basis until the War in Ukraine ends.

It appears that the necessity to control is the key in all of the communities I have discussed here: in the USA today, in Ukraine today, as it was in Spain in the 16th century, and in France in the 1400s when Joan of Arc was burned at the stake because the Church claimed she was a witch. What did she really do? She communicated with God directly rather than go through the hierarchy of the male dominated Church. Sadly, she died but in 1920 the Church reversed its actions and canonized her as Saint Joan of Arc. Although Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the first feminist of the Americas, then New Spain and now Mexico, was not burned to death, she was basically under convent arrest and stopped writing in 1693 because she had in essence threatened the power of the Archbishop of Mexico through her writing and beliefs in equality among the sexes.

So what does Trans Day of Visibility have to do with politicians who pass laws against saying the word “gay” in school, Ukraine, “Don Carlos” the opera, Saint Joan of Arc, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz? Well, each case has at the root: Someone who is trying to control someone else, because those in power believe they have the right to tell everyone else what to say or how to behave. To be clear, I am not conflating personal speech and the right to appear as one cares to appear without doing anyone physical harm with Acts of War or religious torture which are Criminal Acts Against Human Beings.

To not expect the truth and to not be able to discern the truth from lies is the beginning of the destruction of personal “Freedom” whatever that means to whomever. The key is that one does not have the right to tell others that they do not have the right to their “Freedom of Being or Thinking” as long as it does not do bodily harm to another human being.

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