My Transgender Life: Little Words, BIG Meanings

My Transgender Life: Little Words, BIG Meanings
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I admit I was totally astounded by an article I came across last night. Between real news, fake news and not really knowing whether facts are real or alternative, it has been a bit challenging to follow a headline trying to grab my attention and then assessing the story that follows.

The headline that grabbed me was:

While Gorsuch was testifying, the Supreme Court unanimously said he was wrong.

which discussed a case that apparently was handed down by the Supreme Court, where it unanimously disagreed with a previous ruling of Gorsuch’s.

The case was about how the courts interpreted the laws in regard to, “The instruction offered must be ‘specially designed’ to meet a child’s ‘unique needs’ through an ‘[i]ndividualized education program,” and what that really meant. This was a case in regard to a disabled student.

Here is a comment from the article:

UPDATE: Shortly after the Supreme Court’s Endrew F. decision came down, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) asked Gorsuch about his now-discredited decision. Gorsuch defended his approach in Luke P., claiming that he was “bound by circuit precedent.” But Gorsuch is not correct.
In a 1996 opinion, Gorsuch’s court held that “the ‘benefit’ conferred by the [IDEA] . . . must be more than de minimis.” It set a floor. Whatever benefits the law provides to disabled students, it cannot simply be de minimis.
Gorsuch’s opinion in Luke P., by contrast, added the word “merely” to this framework. Under Luke P., the benefits offered to a disabled student “must merely be ‘more than de minimis.’” That one word effectively transformed the floor that the court placed below disabled students in 1996 into a ceiling. Gorsuch transformed a rule instructing school districts that they must do more than nothing into a rule instructing them that they don’t need to do any more than a little more than nothing.

My mind was blown!!!!! “Merely” a single word was added and the entire meaning from a legal sense was totally reversed. I know that words have power. I know that lawyers are experts in using and interpreting words. Sometimes I think that interpreting can be, well, almost be manipulating, but for now, that is not what I want to chat about.

One of my teachers, author Rebecca Shafir wrote in her book, The Zen of Listening, the following:

We have a one-in-seventeen chance of being understood.
Here’s an alarming fact: of approximately eight hundred thousand words in the English language, we use about eight hundred on a regular basis.
Those eight hundred words have fourteen thousand meanings. By division there are about seventeen meanings per word. In other words, we have a one-in-seventeen chance of being understood as we intended.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Chisholm’s Third Law: If you explain something so clearly that no one can misunderstand, someone will.
The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction - Rebecca Shafir M.A.CCC


But if words have so many different meanings, how in the world can that power be used and applied fairly and equally? Is this even possible?

What do words mean? Who is the judge of the meanings? Especially in the transgender community the meanings of words appear to be changing rapidly and it saddens me to see so many different people argue and fight over the “real” meaning of so many words. Polarizations of people, ideas, words and meaning are rampant both in and outside of our community.


George Orwell wrote so much about this power and equality and freedom. In his classic book, Animal Farm, the pigs proclaimed the following:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” which was described as a a comment on the hypocrisy of governments that proclaim the absolute equality of their citizens but give power and privileges to a small elite.
-The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Wow! Hypocrisy of words! Can the word “equal” also have 17 different meanings? I am pretty sure my brain cannot handle that. I wonder if yours can? I was taught and believed that when the phrase “All men are created equal, our founding fathers did not intended to have 17 meanings to this word. Yet, we have been fighting for rights, just human rights continuously for the past two plus centuries in interpreting what these words are supposed to mean.

I struggle, as to me this is really and should not be this hard.

Equal is equal is equal is equal…..

Just as we now know that,

Love is love is love is love is…….

Our founding fathers also believed in religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

Today we are finding many groups in many states creating a brand new definition of religious freedom.

Back when our country was founded, there were many groups that came here to escape persecution for their belief in their country of origin. This new land offered the promise of the freedom to worship as they wanted without anyone persecuting them for their beliefs and their practices.

This newly born country was a place where there was a Constitution and a Bill of Rights, that as I learned all my life, had the intention to allow people to believe what they want with the freedom to not be subject by persecution from either other people that they lived with or from their chosen government.

Strongly held religious beliefs are a great thing for the individual that holds them, and I am certain, yes, certain that our founding father’s encouraged that and intended to guarantee that our citizens could hold these beliefs without fear of persecution.

I am equally (yes that word again) certain that I their intention only has a single meaning, that religious freedom – no matter how strong one’s beliefs may be do not guarantee anyone a right to persecute others for who they are or what they may believe –as strongly as they might.

Perhaps I can offer a simplification of this idea of religious freedom. Perhaps all it intended to mean is Live and Let Live.

Merely two little words can change such a meaning of religious freedom:

freedom from persecution


freedom to persecute

Orwell, in 1984’s Newspeak, might have created the word

RELFREED, which most likely would have been the latter.

However I do have a strongly held belief that it has always and should always mean freedom from persecution.

I wonder what your strongly held belief is.

Grace Anne Stevens inspires people to find their truth and live their authentic life!

She is the author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, and Musings on Living Authentically. Grace is available for speaking to all groups who would like to learn the values of, and how to live authentically. Workshop descriptions can be found at her website.

Grace has been selected as an Amtrak Residency writer for 2016, and will be traveling around the USA in the spring of 2017 while sharing her experiences on the rails

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