On this International Transgender Day of Visibility: A reflection

There is a hard lesson I had to learn, and learn it well I did. It goes like this: in any interaction in which I find myself in a position to make a case for my dignity and self-worth, I run two great risks. The first risk is ceding too much ground to attempts to be dehumanized. The second risk is the possibility of granting power to those who consider that my worth can be withheld. No matter what our race, ethnicity, class, sexual preference, gender identity, or nationality, our sense of worth and sacred dignity are not dependent on the measurements others tried to impose—crooked yardsticks that distort and undo. Such a lesson was a weighty one to integrate in my life, but it pushed me to claim my own worth and sacredness as a self-affirmation. I am worthy of love, and I should not let hate, unkindness, or prejudice distort that understanding nor dictate my recognition as a sacred embodying being worthy of regard.

It is a wicked and evil state of affairs in which we find ourselves now. Politicians, aiming to maximize their political gain by feeding the imaginations of their constituencies with prejudice and flaming the fires of hate with fear, have launched a frontal and ferocious attack on trans lives and those who love them. We are witnessing an unprecedented weaponizing of our political and legal system across different states. 592 bills targeting LGBTQ+ people, 299 of which target specifically trans people—each one based on the premise of withholding the dignity and denying the sacred worth of trans lives, particularly children and youth, and extending threats of punishment to those who care for, love deeply, and hold trans members of our community as sacred. Those of us who affirm the sacred worth and honor the dignity of our trans children, friends, and loved ones are aware of the high cost of such maneuvering of our political and legal systems: exclusion and death. Ours is the task of rising above the fray to recognize the risks that we may run by going down the path of arguing for, instead of resisting from, our commitments to see trans lives as sacred.


Boundless and all-embracing Spirit of Life and Love, we gather here united in our quest for a deeper understanding, connection with each other, and the sacredness of every being on this Earth. We call upon the wisdom of the ancient sages and the strength of our ancestors who fought their battles with grace and dignity, as we honor and recognize the inherent value of our transgender kins.  

We join in the celebration of the diversity of our embodiments and experiences, and do so affirming that we are worthy, that our dignity is ours to claim, and no one can withhold that from us. Divine Light and Gracious Protector, we lift up and honor the lives of our transgender kins, whose journeys embody courage, resilience, and self-determination. May our hearts be opened to the beauty and strength in their stories, and may we recognize the divine spark within them, so that we may recognize it clearer within ourselves.  

As our ancestors did before us, we ask for guidance in our pursuit of collective liberation, to remind ourselves that we are interdependent and our destinies are entwined. We are called to bear witness to the struggles of our transgender kins, to honor their sacredness, and to protect them from harm. Strengthen our resolve and enliven our imaginations so that we may live up to the task of creating a world in which we can all thrive without fear, where we can express our authentic selves, and where we are treated with love, dignity, and respect today and tomorrow.  

May our labors of healing of the wounds inflicted upon our transgender kins be a salve for our generations and those to come.


Dr. Elías Ortega