Sunday, February 14, 2010

For a thoughtful Valentine's Day: Love and transgendered eight year olds. Or: What's love got to do with it?

Talk about a post title, huh? I dare you not to read.

Below is a Valentine's Day post from GARY!, and it contains a little gift at the end from This American Life, our mutual radio show crush.

For the tender of heart, note that GARY! says this particular show made his eyes water ("that's guy for 'cry,'" he said).  Read, listen, ponder.  Then, tell us what you're thinking about love today if you like! (Me: "For dinner tonight...what outfit do I own that involves chains and/or whips?") Here's GARY!:

Well friends, today is Valentine’s Day.  Yes that’s right.  V-DAY!!!!  Which is, in my humble opinion, one of the more pointless holidays on the calendar.

Now if you think that I’m just another love-scorned guy that is hellbent on ruining Valentine’s Day for the masses, stop right there, because you would only be half right.  I actually consider myself to be somewhat of a romantic...even though this strange holiday seems intent on making half the world feel amazing, and the other half feel extremely left out.  To put it all in perspective, I thought I'd share with you guys something I heard the other day on This American Life, but first - a little background on where I'm coming from.

Now I suppose I should start out by saying, in full disclosure, that I did indeed get out of a relationship in November. This was a particularly hard two weeks for me, but I suppose one of the nice things about living in the land of logic is that given enough time, you can basically rationalize anything.  We weren’t right for each other.

If you have ever found yourself in a relationship with someone just as stubborn as you are, then you know what I’m talking about.  Our saving grace was that Dan was smart enough to actually say that we weren’t right for each other, and two weeks later, I was wise enough to realize he was right.  This is a luxury some people will go their whole lives never knowing, because most people never say anything when a problem arises.  They ignore it. It slowly festers and that one thing eventually becomes three things. And then before you know it, words are being wielded as barbed weapons that we hurl at each other with incredible fervor for the sole purpose of hurting the person we at one time loved.  And then, when it’s all said and done, we can’t even be in the same room with the person we were at one time sharing our life with.  Isn’t that insane?  Isn’t love crazy?

The short answer is yes: love IS crazy, and we all know this, and we STILL continue to search for it over and over again.  But I choose to find beauty in that insanity (see. I told you I was a romantic).

All this is important, because this is the first year that I find myself truly perplexed by St Valentine.  A day dedicated to love.  One of the things that got me thinking about an episode of This American Life I heard earlier this week. This particular episode was called “Somewhere Out There,” and dealt with the idea that there may or may not be a person out there for everyone.

The prologue offers up the idea that there is one particular person for everyone (and using the Drake equation, a Harvard physicist paints a pretty bleak picture of your odds of finding that person).  I found the first act amazing, because while it talks about being broadsided by love, it also talks about how hard it can be to hold on to it.

The second act deals with an entirely different kind of love. Self love. It's about two eight year old kids who travel across the country and become best friends for a night.  What I find amazing about these two kids is that they have truly accepted WHO and WHAT they are from the early age of eight.  I say "what they are" because these two kids are actually transgendered.  Transgendered eight year olds that, from as early as two, identified themselves as girls, and not the boys they were born as.

That these kids already understand that people don't understand them, and probably won't, but that it's ok because they love themselves, and for right now that's good enough for them - this is utterly amazing to me.  I'm hoping this resonates with you as it did for me.

If you have 30 minutes give the first two acts, here, a listen.

That's all I got,


Act Two. Tom Girls.

Lilly and Thomasina have a lot in common. They’re both eight years old. And they were both born boys, although it became clear pretty early on that they'd prefer to be girls. There aren’t all that many kids in the world like them, but recently, at a conference in Seattle on transgender parenting, they met. And they immediately hit it off. They could talk about things with each other that they'd never been able to share with other friends back home. And that’s comforting, even if they never see each other after the conference ends. Producer Mary Beth Kirchner tells the story, with production help from Rebecca Weiker. (17 minutes)

Photo credit above:


Michelle said...

I'm totally going to listen to this later! Thank you for the tip, Gary. Kids are kind of amazing.

DalenaVintage said...

I loved this post Tolly! I'm a complete This American Life devotee with a bit of a crush on Ira Glass, okay, TOTAL crush on him. I tear up a lot while listening but Gary is right, this one particularly made me tear up. Not so much out of sadness but more out of a kind of melancholy happiness I suppose. You're right, it's amazing that these girls, at the age of eight, understand that others don't understand them and have so much love for themselves that it doesn't bother them. Think of all the adults out there who don't even feel that way about themselves. What inspirational strength!

Thanks for posting!

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Michelle - You will LOVE it when you listen. As attests...

@DalenaVintage - Leslie, I am so glad you loved. I too have major crush-face on Ira Glass...but anyway, this segment. Omg, right? Isn't it moving? I wish I had half the wherewithal these girls do!

SarahJD said...

Ira Glass for sexiest man alive? Anyone else?? just me?...