Today is Mother’s Day. It is the day after Pride. And tomorrow will be my two-year anniversary of being on T. It’s kind of a wild confluence of events for me. I’m celebrating being my true self, having a mother, having been a mother, being partnered with a mother, and being lucky enough to lead an organization dedicated to creating a safe and fun outdoor community for our LGBTQ+ community. And at the same time, all of these events give me pause.
In some ways being on T for two years is a fairly short amount of time, and yet in so many ways it puts me so very far away from being a mom, being a lesbian and being part of a community of women that for so many years felt like home to me. I felt this acutely yesterday at Pride when two women came over to The Venture Out Project table. They were excited about what we do but looked concerned. I asked them if they were interested in joining us for a hike. They looked up and asked, “Are women allowed on your trips?” In that moment I realized that these two lesbians, who only two years ago would have passed me on the street and given me that knowing look, had no idea that for 38 years I had outwardly represented myself as a woman, that I carried and gave birth to my now nearly six-year old twins, and for three years was called Mommy. They had no idea of our shared connection, of my intimate lived experience of what it means to be a woman, a lesbian, and a mom. And yet I realized that my telling them I’m trans, that of course women are welcome because many of us have lived as women, would do little good because no matter what I told them, they saw a man standing in front of them.
Some tell me I should feel good about the fact that my physical appearance represents my gender identity. And to be sure, in many ways and in many contexts I do. But yesterday at Pride in Northampton, the self-proclaimed lesbian capital of the world, I felt sad that folks I was meeting for the first time had no idea the complexity of my gender identity, my past and my connection to the lesbian community. Which is of course to say, none of us can see the complexity of someone’s identity just by looking at them. We can read some things on people’s bodies, but they’re not always accurate and they’re certainly incomplete. What I like about The Venture Out Project and the community we are creating is that it is a place where we can all share the complexity and nuance of who we are and that we welcome and affirm each other for that very reason.
So on this Mother’s Day, day after Pride, and Manniversary Eve, I want to shout to the world that everyone is welcome at Venture Out – that we seek to be a space that attracts a diversity of people, a space where we recognize each other for who we are and where we seek community in our shared and unique experiences. In fact, my favorite trips have been those where we have people from age 20 to 60 sharing a tent, a genderqueer college student teaching a 50 year old lesbian how they use the word queer, and a 55 year old gay men telling a group of young queers about what it was like to live through the AIDS crisis of the 80s and 90s. That to me is really what all three of these holidays are all about. They are about recognizing that there is a Mother in many of us who takes care of our chosen family, that the anniversary of starting T is for me more an anniversary of becoming my true self, and that Pride is about celebrating all of the past, present and future in our community. Thank you all for being part of my community.