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Submitted by Lani on Thu, 2/24/2011, 3:26pm
One of my not so guilty pleasures is the new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and, in particular, its riveting new series Our America with Lisa Ling. Oh my does Lisa Ling BRING IT. Pursuing the stories often ignored by the main stream media (MSM), in the mere two episodes that have aired since its debut, Lisa Ling has managed to provide compassionate insight into two very different worlds - that of faith healers and, this last Tuesday, on the lives of transgendered people.
The perplexity with which I think most initially encounter the idea that bodies don't necessarily coincide with sex and that gender is much more mysterious than genitals I think reveals how oblivious many of us often are to the complexities and wonder of identity formation. "How can someone not be what they so obviously are?" can very easily give way to a profound encounter with the groundlessness of self formation. This, obviously, can be very very scary, and unfortunately, this deep self-annihilating fear can very quickly degrade into violence. The transgendered are some of the most vulnerable in our society with statistics indicating that hate crimes against the transgendered community are especially heinous. And this, this is tragic indeed.
The Buddha, himself, did not explicitly talk about transgenderism, but the androgyny that often accompanies many of his depictions does speak to the impermanence of gender and sex manifestations. And obviously, even the most crude understanding of reincarnation points to the fact that Buddha nature finds homes in both male and female form - again and again and again and again. Even the Primordial Rigden (representing the enlightened, basic goodness of all sentient beings) in Shambhala teachings is explicitly an androgynous figure as she resides in the cosmic mirror space before sex discrimination and form. Since our language and world is so binary and distinctively sexed, it is not surprising that our categories and concepts are inadequate and, even in their creative capacity, fail to articulate the profundity of all lived experience - often even making that experience for many unintelligible and frustratingly limited. So this Thursday is dedicated to all the fearless gender and identity warriors that are traversing the groundless state of being a bit more intimately than many of us often have to. And watch the episode on OWN please. Really.
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