It’s almost like you forget what it’s like to be hugged when you come out as transgender.

For me that was a loss.

I had always been kinda touchy feely. I loved hugging people in church and welcoming them in. Such a nice thing to do. Nothing says “Jesus loves you” like a warm human accepting you unconditionally and hugging you.  When it was unclear what I was to my fellow parishoners, my soft hugs were met with a more professional, “at a distance” kind of “thing”. Not quite a hug and not quite a put off. More ambiguous than that. Oh well. Jesus was in there someplace I’m sure but I darn missed that hug!

I started reclaiming my huggability when I came into the transgender community and when genetic women accepted me. That was a nice suprise.

My first hug from a genetic woman who both knew about me and accepted me was quite the experience. She said, “Oh I’m pleased to meet you Rebecca” and then like a big cloud I was embraced and I embraced her. I felt normal! Like, wow, who woulda thunk it. I thought, for a long while, I’d become part of the NLG, “New Leper Generation”. Not nearly as trendy as the Pepsi Generation or being a Gen-X’r.

The best hugger by far is Mara Keisling. Mara is the Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. So she’s a mover and a shaker.  And, generally speaking, you don’t get great hugs from a  mover and shaker.  It’s just not becoming.

I saw Mara at First Event, one day. I’ll never forget that day. I welcomed Mara with a big smile and a ‘Hi Mara” and she opened her arms and gave me a huge welcoming hug. It was like someone had put their arms around me and gave me enough comfort that life would be okay for like 3 days. Now THAT was a hug.

First Event 2009 was a love/hug fest. So many wonderful women. So many teary, “oh I love you’s” so many hugs. I thought I was going to get a rash from hugging so many of my old and new friends. It was great. I talked to my therapist about it, she said, “so you really got some nurturing”. Mmmm now that’s a great word. I felt nurtured. I was learning a hug could be a poweful thing and I’d forgotten that.

I’d encourage everyone to hug each other warmly. Think about how we could reduce our need for foreign oil! And don’t be shy in public with them hugs, “what will people think, my goodness…” nah, they will be so jealous they aren’t getting a nice warm embrace and being let know they are welcome to be who they are, right where they are, right as they are.

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