The Keys to the Kingdom: Gender, Guns, and the Gauge • Long Beach Post


The country is in pieces.

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We are all trying to understand and in doing that we grapple for reasons.

For an answer.

We try and move toward something that will tell us why someone, anyone, would walk into a room full of children and murder them. But this isn’t the first time we’ve been concerned. This isn’t the first time we’re going through the grief and the anger and pain and the despair and the eventual discussion that inevitably leads nowhere. We keep going through the same thing; we are stuck in repetition, and we can’t seem to get out.

This isn’t a hallway, this is a dungeon. And we’re all stuck in it.

I grew up with keys to the kingdom. I grew up knowing I had to lead. To conquer. And I grew up learning this because the outside of me was never viewed quite as closely as the inside of me. Because the world saw me as a boy, as the Keeper of the Keys, I grew up with all the rules and regulations that came with my biological gender. It never made any sense to me and never resonated in any way, and yet it was mine. It was my birth right. My destiny. I was expected to treat women in a certain way. I was told under no circumstances was I ever to hit a female, and that I was always to pay for her meal, open her door, and put on her coat. No one ever told me why, but I was constantly told.

And when I was 19-years-old and I left my house and I went forward into what was to be my true destiny, the world around me seemed to change once again.

I transitioned from the gender I was born with, into the gender I was always meant to be. And suddenly I was at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Suddenly the keys to the kingdom were taken away from me. I was no longer in control. I was no longer expected to do what I had been expected to do since I could remember. I was now on the receiving end of what was, to me, a relinquishing of my own ability. I now had people opening doors for me, putting on my coat, and paying for my meals. As I settled into my own femininity, I realized that the men of the world were brought up with expectations. And for me, because I never lived life as a little girl, or a teenage girl, the world around me began to slowly close its doors. There was less for me to do. And strangely, less expected of me.

We’re having a conversation again, and we’re having it because once again, in America, we’re in the middle of a murder.

Statistically, the people who picked up guns and shot massive amounts of people have usually been male. In a world where we give little boys the keys to the kingdom and then blame them when they don’t rule properly, there is a constant battle between what men should do and what they actually do. Certainly they shouldn’t weep loudly, dance broadly, or dream freely. We elect men in our political arenas as they are the thinkers. They are decisive. They are adventurous and they know how to go to war. These are the people we entrust with our lives as countrymen.

And then eventually they disappoint us.

They disappoint us by hurting us. They disappoint us by leaving us. They disappoint us by falling short of the expectations we set up for them. And so we have conversations when they act out. We talk about the guns and violence and the media and then we talk about the mental illness and the insurance and their jobs. But we certainly don’t want to hear from them. We don’t want to talk about their sadness or their freedom or their journeys. We want to remain silent. And we want them to remain silent. We want them to keep the kingdom going and we want them to do this silently.

And then one day, a boy on the threshold of manhood picks up a gun and hears loudly, the sound of his own voice. And maybe he thinks to himself:

“If I do something… something terrible, something huge…maybe someone will actually listen to me. Maybe I’ll be heard. Maybe whatever it is that I’m feeling won’t be laughed at or ridiculed. Maybe this thing I hold in my hand can be my voice.”

And we pay for that. Grown ups and children alike, pay for that.

And so the insides of somebody don’t always match the outsides of somebody, and because that’s true, and because we all transition in one way or another, our internal battle turns into an external war. And murder is committed.

I can’t say I’m not as guilty and I can’t say I don’t blame myself as much as I blame everyone else. I adhere to the gender rules as much as I try to break them. I fall into the stereotypes as much as I rage against the people who put me in them. And so all of us sit and wait and have conversations about things and places and money and all of that is important and all of that makes sense and all of that is certainly part of the equation, but that’s just the beginning. As we talk to each other and as we try and piece this whole mess together and pick up the scattered jigsaw puzzle that’s strewn about on the floor, let’s breathe and take a long look in the mirror. Let’s ask what we’ve done to be a part of this and to create this. Let’s ask what we can do to not only stop this thing, but prevent this thing.

The next time we give the keys to the kingdom to somebody, let’s make sure they know they aren’t solely responsible. Let’s listen. Let’s receive. Let’s care for them.

We are all made of the same stuff. The differences in our behavior don’t change the sameness of our spirits. We are complicated and beautiful and we are magnanimous and egregious and we are bright and glorious. We are all these things and sometimes all at once. We are here either by accident or on purpose, but plainly and simply, we are all here. And we need each other. And we need to hear each other. We are dreamers by nature. We are journeyman. We are in the middle of something grand and something that might or might not have a finale.

And in the spectacular bigness of the Universe there is a resonance that calls each and every one of us. No matter how we were born, where we were born, or why were born, we are all the natural and gifted keepers of the keys.

We must all pay attention to each other.

All of us.

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