Transitioning To Love

This is a love story that has been in my heart and mind, actually hounding me for some time now.  This is the story of my beloved niece, who used to be my nephew; she is now transgender. So as not to confuse you, I will begin this story by referring to my beloved one as male until we reach the point in the story where he transitions to female.

I was in the room with his parents that wonderful day he came into this world, beautiful, whole, and healthy. An immediate bond was created between us.

Opening night of Khamit Kinks TriBeCa

With every day, week, and month that passed, our bond grew stronger since we lived in the same house.  His parents, and my then husband, and I bought and shared a brownstone together. I was there throughout his infancy and some of his toddler life.  Before he could talk, I would talk to him and he would try his best in his baby way to talk back, making all kinds of cooing sounds, gazing in my eyes and seeing my love for him reflected back into his amazing gray/ green eyes that seem to change colors daily.

Around age three, Sharakhu began exhibiting feminine qualities.  He loved dressing as his mother dressed at that time, in lapas (wrap skirts) and head wraps.  He would do this during the day while at home with his mother, but when he heard his father coming through the door he would run to his room and change back to his male clothing.  I guess he assumed his father wouldn’t approve.  His mother and I assumed that he was gay and accepted and love him all the more along with the rest of the family; perhaps we instinctively knew he would need our love and support more than ever. (I am so happy to say, Sharakhu’s father has been a true supporter of his child through all his/her stages.)

Sharakhu w/ head-wrap made with a tee-shirt, red lipstick, and heart hair clip – age 3

I’ll never forget the cold December night that we gathered him, his sister and his cousins in the car traveled to the city to see the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at Town Hall.  On the way back home everyone was on a high from the exhilaration of seeing the exquisite artistry of the company.  It seemed to have expanded our hearts, causing us to feel in some way that we too could gracefully leap through the air as those skilled dancers had, making it look flawless and effortless to soar.

With family, joy, and laughter in the car it seemed Sharakhu felt free, safe and loved enough to share his heart and he casually and matter-of-factly said to us, “God made a mistake when I was born because I was supposed to be a girl.” At the time he was about four or five years old.

Like his sister and his mother, he had and has a very astute command of language.  Even at a young age, he was a natural born thinker and critic, and I believe his voice will one day be heard on the world stage in one manner or another.

Sharakhu and his sister are exceedingly intelligent in spite of their dyslexia; both he and his sister have dyslexia.  This doesn’t stop them one iota from pursuing their dreams. His sister is currently at the top of her law school class at Syracuse University. Their parents have gone through and over and under the system to make sure both their children received all the support they required to attend and get through great schools.

I made it my business to be there for Sharakhu. One of our most memorable outings was when we headed out early one Sunday morning to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit. Sharakhu is a lover of fashion and art in general.  She is currently enrolled in an all-girls college for art.  We enjoy sharing art together so this season we will be attending the new Broadway version of M Butterfly.

Sharakhu recently turned 21 and a couple of years ago realized that she was not gay, but instead feels like a female born in the body of a male.  The words of her youth reminding us of the adage “From the mouths of babes”. I cannot tell you how this reckoning has caused her much suffering, the many long bouts of depression, day upon weeks, upon months of not wanting to get out of bed or leave the house or be seen.  Most of us cannot begin to imagine this kind of pain; it runs deep, all the way to the bones, to the soul and back again.  I sincerely appreciate Sha giving me permission to share her story.

I have a particular perspective regarding transgender people.  In my mind, they are on a most grueling spiritual quest and their suffering will lead to a higher form of evolution and growth. It is my sincere belief that all people who suffer greatly have a closeness to the Divine.  Some of them make it through their rough journey scraped and bruised, with many internal and sometimes external scars that reveal the rugged terrain they have traveled and many prevail, like transgender Author and Advocate, Janet Mock. Others cannot take the suffering, the ridicule, and non-acceptance, and end their lives.  Others trying to live their truth have their lives taken away from them.

The number of trans-teens who commit suicide is staggering.  Thirty-percent of trans-teens attempt suicide and forty- two percent report a history of self-injury, such as cutting.  Twenty-five transgender people were murdered in 2017, for being transgender.  And the thought that my niece could be killed on two counts for 1. being born black and male, and 2. being black and transgender. The thought of it can be harrowing.  I don’t let it get to me because I trust that she is being protected by angels and ancestors and I’m hoping to open the hearts and minds of others who can offer love, a love that protects all those who are deemed “different”.

About eight years ago, I was at the checkout counter at Victoria’s Secret on 34th Street.  The salesperson behind the counter was a transgender woman of exquisite beauty; I could not take my eyes off of her. She seemed to be Filipino or perhaps she was from Thailand, a place that specializes in gender-altering operations.  In any event, this trans person looked like a work of art. Her gracefulness, the skin, the flawless makeup made her absolutely mesmerizing.  I realized that transgender people are rarely seen working in public places.  They are more often than not, unemployed.  In addition to job discrimination, they are also burdened with housing discrimination and many other forms of discrimination.  I wonder what would Jesus say about all of this?  I don’t think he would approve as his teachings were about love and loving all of humankind.  Yet, I doubt this topic comes up in Christian church services.

In the teaching of the Buddha, it is stated that understanding is love and love is understanding.  Another of the Buddha’s teaching says that we should not discriminate. I always thought of discrimination as having to do with race, but discrimination takes on many forms. We often discriminate against ideas, people, religions and or ways of being of others that we don’t understand, therefore are unable to accept.

Imagine how they would feel if they were accepted and loved.  There would be less suffering.  I can’t begin to explain the pain I’ve experienced as an aunt of a trans-child.  The things that have been said to me about transgender people are not only lacking in sensitivity and humaneness, but those who share their thoughts seemingly have no idea how very painful, heart-wrenching their words can be.  They seem to have no idea how they have hurt me with their closed minds and hearts and judgmental words.

If the thought of trans-people assaults your sensibilities,  you may have some heart-expanding work to do.  It is my sincere belief that trans-people have been around since the dawn of time, like the rest of us. Today’s trans-children are not waiting on society.  They are letting their parents know as soon as they realize their discomfort, that they are not the gender that their body says they are, and they will not repress their true identities.  Last month, eight openly transgender politicians won in their districts in local elections.

During this holiday season, a time that I refer to as the holy season, I ask that you search your heart to see if there is a way you can expand it to encompass love and understanding for trans-people.  In the true spirit of this holy season, let’s love one another; let’s expand our minds and our hearts to the true love of all people.  Each and every one of us has emerged from the One Divine Source and to that Source, we will all return. When we are completely whole and healed of our discriminations and our own sufferings; when our hearts are pure, and we can truly see in every way, the Oneness that is All, that you are me and I am you, we will then be one with Source.  Each time you expand your heart to accept the “other” you become a step closer to divinity.

2018-01-21T01:06:38+00:00 Uncategorized|26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Denise Covelle December 12, 2017 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    Thank you Anu for sharing your niece’s journey! How blessed she is, to have an awesome supportive family💛

  2. Ambrosia December 12, 2017 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    much love to you and your niece! Shes so lucky to have a supportive family!

    • Anu Prestonia December 12, 2017 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Ambrosia! She is definitely blessed, though it’s sometimes difficult for her to see that through all the pain and suffering.

  3. Denise Covelle December 12, 2017 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    Anu Prestonia , I’m sitting in my car waiting for my granddaughter to come out of school. Her story bought tears to my eyes, tears of joy, tears of hope and unconditional love. I’m truly a daughter of Osun, I’ve just came out of my Iyawo year in October. I’ve always been passionate for others who are going through situations. I’m feeling your niece’s energy and I know she will be very well and have all the right people to continue to support her. Love and light to this beautiful star💥

    • Anu Prestonia December 12, 2017 at 11:14 pm - Reply

      Awww Denise, I know how you feel, as I too am a daughter of Oshun and Obatala. My heart is always open to love and the Oneness that includes all. Thank you, for your support and encouragement. More love to Sha and to all transgender people.

  4. Rashid Taylor December 12, 2017 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    This warms my heart!! We love you Sharakhu! Well done, Mut Anu!!

    • Anu Prestonia December 12, 2017 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Rashid! Sha is fortunate to have so much love coming her way from our sacred village.

  5. Abimbola December 12, 2017 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    This was a well written and thought provoking article. Thank you for sharing your experience. From now on I will have an open mind. Be blessed.

    • Anu Prestonia December 12, 2017 at 11:11 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Abimobla. That’s powerful and beautiful. Thank you, Abimbola for being receptive to having your heart expanded to include more love.

  6. Linda December 13, 2017 at 12:20 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. Sending encouragement and love.

  7. Denise Butler December 13, 2017 at 12:24 am - Reply

    Thank you, and Sharakhu,for sharing her story in such a poignant and compassionate way. Her spirit has been set free, and the blessings are limitless. Love to all my family. ❤️

  8. Subha December 13, 2017 at 2:27 am - Reply

    So powerful. Thank you for sharing her story, Anu. She is beautiful and I send her my love. It is not easy to reveal what’s within especially when you know the judgement and torment that may follow. Thank you for speaking your truth. Thank you for touching hearts that may not have been scarred and softening others that may have been hard. Blessings.

  9. Patricia December 13, 2017 at 2:57 am - Reply

    May God continue to strengthen your niece Sha. May He continue to bless and surround her with authentic and loving family and friends. May God heal her to be her authentic self. Thank you for sharing Sha’s Journey and your journey of love. I pray your expression of love open the minds and hearts of people.
    Blessings.

  10. Najaa December 13, 2017 at 3:33 am - Reply

    I was just scrolling through Instagram and stumbled upon your post. It is so beautiful to see African people loving each other without passing judgement, especially loving our transgender sisters and brothers (and nieces)! Your walk in compassion and understanding is going to lead others to follow the same path.

    Thanks from this daughter of Oya!

  11. Sehu December 13, 2017 at 4:17 am - Reply

    Exquisite piece of writing Anu. Thank you for your Love and Support. Thanks for sharing her/our story, I truly hopes it helps others.

  12. La Francis Rodgers December 13, 2017 at 4:30 am - Reply

    Thanks Anu for sharing this powerful heart warming story of your niece. The International Black Women’s Congress since 1983 goal has been to emrace and empower our community. Because of our commitment, we have been active in the HIV /AIDS movement for 30 years offering comprehensive and preventive services. In 2014, we hired transgender staff members to address the specific needs of transgender individuals. Your love story tells us that we have much work to do. Indeed love is the answer.

  13. Keith L. Smith December 13, 2017 at 4:54 am - Reply

    Anu what a blessing you are to this world. Thank you (and Sha) for sharing this with us.

    As a Gay Black Man, I stand with my Trans Brothers and Sisters as we continue to fight for equality and equity!

    Peace and Love to you – Keith

    PS – As a former Khamit Kinks customer, I am glad to have sown into good ground!

  14. Diva(Rashida) December 13, 2017 at 6:16 am - Reply

    That was and is beautiful !!!! The power of love is amazing and will always sustain us! She is fabulous as are you! Love you always, thank you for sharing !!❤️

  15. M. E. Jani Jeppe December 13, 2017 at 6:17 am - Reply

    I thank you for sharing this testimony of love along with our capacity to do so with divine grace and courage! Ase’ Ire!

  16. Jewel Jeppe December 13, 2017 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Peace & Divine Blessings Beloved Family. This beautiful,soul-awakening, heart-filled and insightful testimony truly and powerfully reminds us that we come from Love, to Love, and in Love we shall return.
    We are Thankful, so very Thankful for our choices and chances to love. Thank you Maat, Sehu, Ptahra, and Anu for being truly loving vessels, ones in which Sha could trust in, find and share truth in, and courageously press onward and forward through this life’s journey.

    Ase’ Ire! With LoveLight&God-GracedSpirits ~ Jani & Jewel

  17. Nzinga Foluke-Henderson December 13, 2017 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Peace and Blessings. What a well-written and compassionate appeal. May Sharakhu find peace within his own skin and spirit and be blessed too live a rich, healthy, and rewarding long life.

  18. Ayana Mckanney December 13, 2017 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    This is a truly beautiful expression shared with love and respect. Much love to Sha and her entire family…I haven’t seen her since she was young and had no idea. This is inspiring and touching… xoxo

  19. Gwen Warner December 13, 2017 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    She is my cousin and this is a great tribute to her and her family. Thank You

  20. Ap Nefer Heru December 13, 2017 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    Anu,

    What a blessing to have an aunt like yourself! Always in one’s corner! I think it’s still rare and for which Sha and anyone in that position, must be so grateful,

    One of my brother in law’s sister underwent this transformation years ago before it was as known about as it is today. I recall that as a man, she was a performer on a local television show in my home town somewhat like a local version of “Soul Train”. Whenever she decided to transition, there was no term called “transgendered” to my knowledge. I recall asking my sister how my brother in law and his family were handling the change that was occurring, and while at first, my in law said nothing about it, in time he referred to “his sister”, not speaking of the two that were by birth recognized as such. For a guy from the hood, it was extraordinary! I can’t say I fully understand either, to be frank, but I do know that the Creator has brought about so many variations on many themes, and that none of us are seen the same in our view of life, or how we are viewed in life. Life will eternally have mysteries for us to ponder, grow from, and yes, experience. My prayers continue for all in this beautiful family who have been giving and courageous enough to share this experience with us.

  21. Maitefa Angaza December 14, 2017 at 5:32 am - Reply

    This is exquisite and so much needed! Your love and Sha’s courage shine through. I know you’re proud of her and we see one of the reasons she is proud of you!

  22. Rohanna Thomas December 14, 2017 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    To put this out there and to ask for openness, kindness, acceptance and love is just so great. Perspectives will change simply because you have shared; and what a blessing this will be to others!! I’ve always thought Sha was/is amazing, a powerhouse and I too believe that Sha’s voice will be heard in a substantial way. Please let her know that I love and miss her! Thanks so this!

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