On Sunday, September 23, from 2-4 pm, Open Spirit: A Place of Hope, Health & Harmony will host “Facing Fear and Claiming Courage: A Conversation about Gender Identity and Community.” It is an opportunity to hear personal stories of fear, courage and transformation, to ask honest questions about gender identity in a safe space, and to claim courage to speak out. The program is inspired by awareness that the November 6 vote on Question 3 stirs deep-rooted fears and hopes for many people.
The afternoon will begin with words of welcome from Massachusetts State Senate President Karen Spilka and Massachusetts State Representative Jack Patrick Lewis.
The heart of the program will be a panel of four speakers—a godfather of a young transgender man, a married couple who together faced one partner’s transition, and a young transgender woman. They will share the fears and struggles they have faced, the ways they have found strength, and the support they have found helpful.
Following the panel discussion, there will an opportunity for questions and conversation in a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere. The event will close with conversation about next steps, including information about Question 3. Refreshments will be provided for further informational conversations.
The program has been developed by a coalition of groups, including Open Spirit and Greater Boston PFLAG. It is sponsored by a wide range of local religious, advocacy and community organizations, including: Edwards Church, UCC, Framingham; The Plymouth Church, UCC, Framingham; First Parish, Framingham; Community Chaplaincy Council, Newton; Just Peace Players; Out Metrowest; GLAD; and Keshet.
Kathy Herrman, one of the planners, shared: For me this program is about fear. Fear triggers our most basic biological wiring towards “fight or flight.” But, if we can muster the courage to sit with the fear, and open our hearts, we come to understand that though something may be unfamiliar or different, it is not dangerous. Fear can keep us safe, but if it is not matched with wisdom, it can turn into intolerance, discrimination and hate. The journeys that will be shared during this event will show, that facing fear with understanding, acceptance and love, is the ultimate demonstration of courage.
For Rosanne Kates, a leader at Open Spirit, the program provides an opportunity for listening: “I believe in the power of gaining new insights through deep listening as people share their personal narratives. I am interested in attending this program within our Framingham community to learn more about gender identity as the members of the program’s panel relate their personal stories”
Valerie Frias, Executive Director of Greater Boston PFLAG, highlights the importance of this program as a way to raise awareness, build relationships and help build alliances to ensure that the rights of all people are protected: “At Greater Boston PFLAG , we are deeply committed to defending the rights of the transgender community, and will work tirelessly to defeat a dangerous ballot initiative that would repeal Massachusetts’ non-discrimination law that currently ensures fair and equal treatment for trans folks in public spaces — parks, restaurants, retail stores. All people, regardless of gender identity, should be treated with dignity, respect and full equality.”
The program will be held at Open Spirit, in the Edwards Hall building, on the campus of Edwards Church, UCC, 39 Edwards Street, Framingham, MA 01701. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org