Sunday, December 10, 2017

Names, Faith, and First Amendment Rights

You know what is nice? and it seems like such a little thing, but the impact leaves one riding this huge wave selfless Love. It is when you receive cards, letters, emails, and packages addressed to your name. It is respect of human dignity; a recognition that they see you as you truly are and have always been.
a package from a cousin
Long before I came out, my wife and I have been dealing with the disrespect for US and for our mutual love when people have chosen to call us what they chose.

In 1987, I was completely done with my first name you know the whole, "That's my name, don't wear it out." Well, that name was worn out for a very long time in my hometown. Every single time someone insists on calling me by that name which I abandoned 30 years ago. I hear the epithet I was called daily by peers in my K-12 school since elementary (There is only one vowel. Just replace the "e" with a "u") -- The thing is, I should NEVER have had to explain to those who love me Why I decided to start using my legal middle name from December 1987 til December 2017.  I also do not need to tell them about the emotional scars from that physical abuse which accompanied those epithets.
from bandmates
There is already precedent in my extended German heritage both of my middle name, Christian, and its use as the preferred name. Furthermore, Christian is an easier name to shorten to the gender neutral "Chris", though I would often times use the equally gender ambiguous KC (my initials). On my Luther College application back in 1988, I debated whether I mark my gender as female at that time. I have always known myself to be female, and stuck it out til through school. I just could not fathom continuing in this false male persona through college too. That prospect of feeling trapped on a floor with a bunch of guys and having a male roommate. And thus have no place for security, trust or confidence. I managed and I did develop friendships with some guys, but my closest friends in college are all women.

Then when my wife and I fell in love. She is Krista Lynn Sandstrom. I did not ever want her to change her name...who she is. Which is good, because she did not want to change it either. I thought we had made that abundantly clear to friends and relatives in our marriage announcement. Yet we would routinely get mail from relatives addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Kent McGuire" -- For a while I would just cross out the name and say something like, Return to Sender or "Not at this address." Krista knew how much this hurt me. It hurt her too that people could be so selfish and hung up on themselves that they cannot even do the most simple gesture of Love. 
from bandmates
Our Children's last name has ALWAYS been Sandstrom-McGuire - and We are the Sandstrom-McGuire family. And now that Krista is no longer physically present, I am ensuring that we remain the Sandstrom-McGuire family by adding my wife's surname to mine in her absence. We have never and will never be "The McGuires." 
For Xenia from cousin
And now, as a finally out in the open trans woman, this broken record of unloving gestures, from thankfully only a few who struggle with the simple act of respecting my dignity, is their issue.

Some claim that it is their right to call me by the name and gender they chose is based upon their Religious Tradition and they are protected under their First Amendment Rights. To which me, as a student of ethics and moral philosophy, who once aspired to be a Lutheran Pastor, am baffled. What religious faith tradition is it that requires its followers to take it upon themselves to forsake Christ's love and dehumanize others?

Xmas gift from friend

There is in fact nothing in the result of their name calling, nor in their gut-based intent that resembles anything like an acknowledgement of Faith, Hope and Charity. Far from serving the interests of their Faith in evangelizing the Good News of Love and Salvation, their very actions demonstrate quite the opposite. They are the ones who act with selfish Vice...acting with neither their heads nor their hearts. The result, which is obvious to us and certainly to God, is that they are bullies, no different than those who abused me during my childhood and teenage years.

Now, I am quite well versed and able to discuss the nature and limitations of Virtue Ethics, but isn't it just much easier, simpler, and a better use of energy to demonstrate Love? 

I have made this really simple for everyone I spelled it out who I am and who I have always been. So do not let your own selfish bias of who you think I am, prevent you from overcoming vice and demonstrating an simple act of Love.

Thank you.
with much Love,
Ms. Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire, MA
pronouns: She/her/hers
Xenia: Warrior Bassist
in her Music / Marital Arts / Yoga Studio

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