The Power of Being Seen

Laura Thor spoke these words at Transgender Day of Remembrance last year, at a service held at Jefferson Unitarian Church, Golden, Colorado. Laura will be speaking again this year at this event-we invite you to join us.

Lana Wachowski

Lana Wachowski, film writer/producer

How many of you have seen the YouTube video of Lana Wachowski’s acceptance speech fat the 2012 Human Rights Campaign gala ?

Lana has grabbed the brass ring, found the Holy Grail, or, as she says, won the Lotto. In her speech to the HRC she speaks of being loved in her entirety, of finally being known for who she is… for being seen.

Four times she returns to the power of being seen or failing to be seen and recognized for who she is.

She speaks of the universal, essential need for each person to be seen, not only in order to be known and loved, but in order to exist at all.

To find our place and to fit in, we have to be recognized as belonging. We will never trust we are lovable unless we feel known in our entirety, and that can’t happen unless we show ourselves, make ourselves visible.

But the conundrum of course, is that for the Transgender person, showing oneself can get oneself killed.

We are social beings who don’t do well if we go unnoticed, unattended to. From infancy our lives depend on being seen and understood. If our caregivers don’t recognize our cry for food or holding, we go hungry and neglected.

In school, if no mentor ever sees our innate gifts, we don’t tend to recognize them in ourselves, and without someone speaking truth to us about who we are and who we might become, we might not believe it ourselves.

We can’t know much about ourselves outside a community of others who also want to risk vulnerability for the sake of being known, of being real, together.

Isolation is safe, but it leads to stillbirth, not life.

We can try to stay safe by hiding out on a private island inhabited by no one but ourselves, but we can’t live there for long. Remember what happens to Tom Hanks’ character in the movie